Down in Los Angeles, this thing called the World Series — you may have heard of it — will commence tonight. Clayton Kershaw will be the Game 1 starter, Yasiel Puig will be bat-flipping grounders and fly balls, and Justin Turner will be flaunting his red hair for all the cuties sitting in the front row.
Point is, the dreaded Dodgers will be playing in their first World Series since 1988 when they dispatched the 104-win Oakland A’s in five games. (Sorry for the reference, A’s fans).
With this current crop of stars sporting the Dodger-blue, this may not be the last time they’ll be playing in the Fall Classic. After all, they’ve won five-straight NL West titles and you knew, much to the chagrin of San Francisco Giants’ fans, they were due to be playing for Major League Baseball’s highest honor at some point.
And, what about those Giants? They who have to sit and watch their bitter rivals gain all the attention and praise. The orange and black, to put it kindly, is in a transition period — whether they want to admit it or not.
This franchise has the mindset of being a championship contending club, but let’s face it, the product on the field says otherwise. Just look at the standings.
The Dodgers were a whopping 40 games better than the Giants this season, forcing Giants general manager Bobby Evans to make the shocking moves he made last weekend.
Evans had to do something, but getting rid of Dave Righetti — who served as the Giants pitching coach for the last 18 seasons and has been “reassigned” within the organization — is not the move most anticipated, although there were murmurs about a similar move going down over the last month.
But was Righetti responsible for the Giants regressing in 2017? Overall, the Giants pitching staff in 2017 was literally average, finishing 16th in baseball with a 4.50 earned run average.
But, that’s not the story here.
Was it Righetti’s fault that Madison Bumgarner injured his shoulder on a dirt bike back on April 20 in Denver? I don’t think it was Rags’ fault that Johnny Cueto came into Spring Training out of shape, nor do I think it was his fault that Mark Melancon was paid $62 million over four years to save 11 games and be at the center of a bizarre story about stretching.
No, the Giants have bigger problems, and the biggest is currently playing in the World Series. The Dodgers are loaded for years to come and as Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob famously coined, are lightyears better than the Giants — from top to bottom.
Besides, how does Bruce Bochy feel about these moves? Did he sign off on them?
(Side note: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has managed circles around Bochy since taking over for Don Mattingly in LaLa land, but I’ll get to that another time.)
From the front office to the players on the field, the Giants may not be 40 games worse than the Dodgers, but they’re also not within striking distance of competing for championships.
To be honest, the Giants have been awful since the 2016 All-Star Break, when they were chillin’ in San Diego with a 57-33 record. Since then, they have slumped to a 90-137 mark.
That isn’t good. It isn’t what 3.3 million fans who walked through the turnstiles at AT&T Park paid for.
Offensively, to be frank, the Giants were offensive. They were dead-last in home runs hit, with 128, 23 behind Pittsburgh. Their batting average as a team was a putrid .249 and last in the league with a .649 on-base plus slugging.
And that begs the question: what is going to happen with Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens? How did he survive this coaching shakeup? How does Righetti, who helped develop the likes of Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner, while revitalizing the likes of Ryan Vogelsong and Yusmeiro Petit get axed alongside Mark Gardner and assistant hitting coach Steve Decker?
Bam Bam has to be on notice, especially after the Giants interviewed Chili Davis.
So is it shocking to see Evans shake things up? No. But is it off-putting to see Evans jettison Righetti to a smaller role within the organization? Absolutely.
The harsh reality has set in for Evans: The Dodgers are in a position to potentially win a championship and cap off one of the best seasons in MLB history.
The Giants will be forced to watch, scrambling to figure out how to keep pace with that team down south.
Bonta Hill of 95.7 The Game can be heard from noon to 3 p.m. on the Greg Papa Show. Born and bred in San Francisco, he is a sports junkie who loves to sit in the lab (home), eats breakfast food for dinner, and has a newfound love for tequila. Follow at your own risk on Twitter @BontaHill.
“Allow me to reintroduce myself …”
I’m not going to lie to you: Getting paid to watch, write and talk about sports is pretty damn cool.
To be able to live my life and devote time to being a sports geek — something I’ve loved doing since I was 4 years old and smacking on dry Apple Jacks with my uncle Dexter — is an absolute dream.
I grew up on Waller Street before eventually living in damn near every neighborhood in San Francisco. Along the way, I’ve picked up and scanned every sports section I could get my hands on.
Since I’ve started the grind — back in the Spring of 2007 when I asked the journalism department chair, Juan Gonzales, if I could freelance on write on the City College of San Francisco school newspaper, The Guardsman, I’ve taken pride in turning my hobby into a career.
I grew up a diehard 49ers and Giants fan, while also appreciating the great skill of NBA players. I’ve lost a job just to watch Florida St. play Florida. I’ve blown off commitments just to watch a random Giants/Rockies game in July.
From listening to random sports radio shows to striking out at the club on a Friday and Saturday night because I’d prefer to discuss Michael Jordan’s greatness, or Barry Bonds’ strikeout/walk ratio, this has literally been my life — watching, writing and talking about sports.
But I have matured to an extent and have embraced other pursuits. A good comedy and gangsta’ flick makes for a great evening. And, I love people watching and sightseeing. This sports geek even found a girl who knows how to handle my addiction.
So, with all that said, expect this column to be fun while also touching on the hard-hitting topics. However, don’t expect me to pollute and overload your brain with politics.
I’ll keep it funky, but real. I promise, we’re going to have a ball on the ‘Hill.’