Once again, it’s time to welcome my friend David (not pictured) to talk about the San Francisco Giants, this weekend’s Washington Nationals opponent. David grew up a cul-de-sac away from me and moved out to the Bay Area around the time of the Nats arrival. He adopted his new city’s team and it’s worked out very well for him. By coincidence, his softball team wears green curly W caps.

WFY: In 2021 the Giants won 107 games. Last year, they were precisely mediocre. In May, when during the first series, they were both about 4 games under. Since then, the two teams have gone opposite directions – the Nats are terrible while the Giants have moved into second place. What happened?

DS: The Giants are getting unexpected performance from young players. They had a notable offseason of failed free agent signings and then went into the season with a “lets-see-what-we-have” approach. Expectations were very low. But they have gotten timely hitting from people you have never heard of and that is huge in contributing to winning. Patrick Bailey at catcher has been a lot of fun.

WFY: Gabe Kapler didn’t impress me much in Philadelphia and I was wondering if he’d be on the hot seat after that Nats series in May. How has he righted the ship?

DS: I was disappointed with the hire when it happened based on his history. I also am not a fan of his SABERMetrics approach. For instance, Giants hitters are instructed to not swing at strikes that they weren’t expecting or don’t think they can driveDS: even with 2 strikes! The theory is long-term plate discipline pays off. But it is tedious watching called third strikes with runners on base.

Anyway, the team seriously outperformed in 2021 winning 107 games and that was really fun. Last year was more of what I was expecting. They hit a lot of home runs, like most Moneyball outfits. I see the secret to success this hear having been the performance of farm system players and free agents. Going into the season, I was convinced they would be a disaster because of lack of talent. But what has made them good thus far are susceptible to petering out. It is always fun to see rookies play well. The depth of the talent pool has allowed the team to use different lineups and quickly move off slumping players..

WFY: Is there anybody on the current club that you feel like you have to see or want to make sure your kids see? Have you taken either of your sons to a game yet?

DS: The team really doesn’t have anyone that gets people excited. The fans have a soft spot for Brandon Crawford, given he is the last team member of the 2012 and 2014 championships, and he’s been good for so long. I like Joc Pederson for his casual whimsy, but that isn’t something that kid’s appreciate.

We went to a game as a family in 2019 as part of a work event. The baby was in tow in a Baby Bjorn. Since then, my older son and I have been to a few games. We recently went to a Nationals game together and we were on the Jumbotron — a first for both of us. It took me a bit longer in life.

WFY: Were there any serious talk of taking a flyer on Madison Bumgarner? Not signing him back in 2020 is looking pretty smart now.

DS: I don’t think there was any serious thought about it. From the times I saw him pitch most recently he was consistently throwing in the low 80s and getting pounded. He had a magnificent run, but arms fade like pretty flowers. We can’t pretend that’s not true. Thank-you-sentimental contracts can be killers. It was definitely the right call.

WFY: I saw somewhere that Jon Miller was being criticized for wearing a Giants cap. I found that odd as broadcasters are team employees, so “objectivity” isn’t necessarily expected. It’s also funny because the owner in Baltimore got rid of Miller for not being enough of a homer. Is this actually a concern or just somebody looking for something to complain about?

DS: I didn’t hear the hubbub. My sports media is largely listed to the Giants flagship radio station where there is nary a word criticizing Miller. As far as I can tell everyone realizes how lucky we are as fans to have Miller on the TV or radio. The Giants have a fine broadcasting crew — lots of chemistry, humor, long-standing bits and traditions.

WFY: Now that you are out of the city and into the suburbs, what’s your preferred way to get to a game?

DS: Caltrain is the local rain that connects San Jose and San Francisco. Its northern terminus is two blocks from Oracle Park. Unless someone gives you a free parking pass, taking Caltrain is the best option for me. You just have be prepared for the nuts-to-butts ride if the game is on a weeknight as the commuter ridership plus the game surge takes it to capacity.

WFY: How are San Francisco fans reacting to the apparent departure of their East Bay rival? Three decades ago, the Oakland Athletics were the better team in the region and the Giants were threatening to bolt.

DS: There is an odd dynamic at work here. I’ve found in my 20 years living out here that most Giants fans generally support the A’s or are at least neutral. You’re much more likely to find A’s fans that detest the Giants and will tell you that they aren’t adopting them as their team. I’ve never much taken an interest in the A’s, but I’ve been happy for them when they’ve done well.

WFY: If I were to go to San Francisco to catch a Nats game with my sons in the cheap seats, how would we be received in our curly W gear?

DS: No one would say a word. Giants fan are almost totally indifferent to opposing team fans and there are always plenty of them. San Francisco is a transient city with many people who move here from elsewhere. San Francisco natives are proud but they don’t necessarily show it by being an ass to someone because they are from Pittsburgh or Washington, DC.

WFY: You were planning to visit Nationals Park during your recent visit. How did you like DC’s ballpark?

DS: I had a great time. The game was thinly attended — poor enough attendance that I felt bad for the Nationals players. But I love not standing in line and the bathrooms being clean in the 8th inning. The stadium felt new and clean and the seats were more comfortable than most stadia. Getting in and out was fairly easy. It is a nice park. It bums me out to see it so empty.

WFY: On a more general topic, what’s your take on the new scheduling? Are you happy that the Giants will have less games in the division in exchange for more games against the Mariners and Rays? If they had to open against an AL team on the road, the Yankees couldn’t have been the worse pick.

DS: I am a curmedgeon and don’t like interleague play. I no longer have a national interest in baseball. I only follow the Giants and only know other teams insofar as they play the Giants. So by having more games against the Astros, Royals and Blue Jays doesn’t do a lot for me in terms of excitement.

WFY: Who was the best #23 in San Francisco Giants history?

DS: Without looking it up, I’d have to say Joc Pederson. As I mentioned above, I like to watch him play. He is one of the few players that genuinely seems to be having fun at the ball park. After looking it up, I’d say Felipe Alou.

WFY: The featured photo above is one I have been looking for over the years. It must have been in a Uni Watch ticker. I find it disappointing that more wasn’t made of the fact that at the same time, in the same city, stadium, two men named Roger Craig who wore #33 were leading teams to championships. Have you heard this come up from anybody but me? How did the team and fanbase react to his passing?

DS: Roger Craig used the expression “Humm baby” and would describe a good player as “a Humm baby”. When he passed away, the Giants put a Humm baby sign in left field and it seems everyone loved it as a tribute. They’ve kept it up and they should. Teams need those things in the days when players don’t last very long.

WFY: Do the Giants sweep or take two of three this weekend? Do you think they make the postseason?

DS: The Nationals played poorly when I saw them and the Reds ran all over them. I expect the Giants to take two. No to the sweep just based on percentages. I see the Giants as a wildcard team that loses early this year unless something crazy happens. In all likelihood the Dodgers will sign Ohtani and it will be curtains.

WFY: Well, I happened to see Lane Thomas at a meet n’ greet and asked him to take the series so I could having bragging rights. He said he’d do it. Thanks, Lane.

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