My first post, my last Giants game
Today I went to my last Giants game of the season, unless we meet Philadelphia again in the playoffs. I decided to do a real-time diary, and it turned out to be a big mess, but from it I was able to piece together some coherent thoughts on the team’s catching situation when I got home:
I was glad to have been there for Chris Stewart’s first career home run. If I don’t remember this when I am 50 then I must not be as big of a fan as I thought. It was no cheap shot–few at AT&T are–and I heard on the drive home that the fan who caught it was willing to give the ball back to him. I’d say that fan is more generous than the guy who gave Jeter’s 3,000th hit back. He must have known that giving it back would land him some sweet deal given the media circus that was Jeter’s march to 3,000. Whatever, I am ranting.
Stewart has raised his average to Eli Whiteside territory, around .230, and if he can sustain it he should start most games (i.e., 3 out of 5 days or even slightly down to 11 of 20). Whiteside has more pop than Chris Stewart and his garden hose bat, to be sure, but Stewart is so much better at blocking balls in the dirt and has shown a pretty good sense of the strike zone. Tonight he had one bad at-bat, taking the same fastball for three strikes in a row after a 3-0 count. Still, his patience is an asset because he is not a great hitter. And let’s not forget, he has a cannon. And a mean mug for anyone who tries to steal on him. Most importantly, both Stewart and Whiteside apparently have excellent rapport with the pitching staff and can call a great game.
While everyone knows that the weakness of the Giants is offense, and we would certainly love having Buster’s production coming from the catcher position, there is nothing more we can ask of this serviceable duo. Perhaps there is a quaint appeal to having a grizzled, high-socked, resolute, mask-wearing backstop (never them new helmets the young kids use these days, and none of them gosh darn knee savers, neither!). You know the guy, a veteran’s veteran, who can work an umpire and the strike zone so well that pictures of his frames should themselves be framed and displayed in some sort children’s catcher instructional/tutorial museum. He’s got people skills, and can read his pitcher and the opposing batter with ease, using that information in conjunction with the mountains of data he already has on all of his pitchers and the rival hitters in the chess game which must go on in his head during every at-bat.
I certainly feel it, the appeal I mean. Maybe you don’t, maybe you’ve been spoiled by Mike Piazza or something. Hopefully we can agree that this catching duo is good enough, and that they would fit right in sharing #8 spot in a theoretical average National League offense.
For that, gentlemen, I salute you.