To get ready for the 2012 baseball season, we’re looking at each team by way of a short story or one-act play. Why? Why the fuck not. Up next: the National League West, the last division standing.
1. San Francisco Giants (Predicted Finish: 88-64)
EXT. LAKE DEL VALLE – NIGHT
TIM LINCECUM and BARRY ZITO sit on the banks of Lake Del Valle near San Francisco, their jeans rolled up and their bare feet dangling in the cool water. They pass a joint between them in the quiet night, and they’re using rolled up $100 bills from Zito’s wallet to relight it. (Ed. Yes, we’re resorting to cheap shots here. Give us a break, we’re 10,000 fucking words deep into this thing and we’re starting to lose our minds.)
I can’t figure out if I should sign a long-term deal here.
Why wouldn’t you?
Well, look at what you’ve been through. Has the money been worth it?
No, man, it hasn’t been, to tell you the truth. I’ve got a lot of regrets.
It’s just you, me and the fish here.
I feel like I kind of got bullied into signing that contract. I never really cared that much about the money. But the Players’ Association was up my ass, and made me feel like I’d be letting everyone down if I didn’t take every dollar I could get. Made me feel like I had a responsibility as an American to get those dollars.
I know what you mean.
I’m not upset I signed with the Giants, though. I love this city. And obviously, meeting you and getting to hang out has been amazing.
Vice versa, Z.
I wish I’d been better. I wish my velocity had stayed up. I wish I still had my command. I’ve tried everything. You’ve seen me out there, working, getting coached up.
It is what it is.
It is what it is.
I think I’m going to leave. I don’t feel appreciated here. Not really.
That’s how I felt in Oakland, but in reality, they just didn’t have the money.
Can’t say that about the Giants. Look at what Cain just signed. Shit.
No, you can’t. And you won us a ring, Timmy.
I just know that, as athletes, we’ve only got so many years to be good, to try to make ourselves happy.
Speaking of which, you want to go for a swim, or do you wanna go play some Mass Effect 3?
Both. Hey, Z?
Does it hurt to grow a beard?
Arizona Diamondbacks (84-78)
The day that Justin Upton and Chris Young arrived at the ballpark early, everything changed. They had come to take some extra BP with the hitting machine, and to take turn shagging flies. No real reason except that they were young and hungry and talented, and that they enjoyed the game and each other’s company. They arrived at the park in workout clothes and headed straight to the field. As they walked through the tunnel, their eyes adjusted to the pre-dawn light, the film of haze surrounding the light banks. Just as they were about to emerge onto the field, they saw it. Or rather, they saw him.
Their manager, Kirk Gibson, the man who was to lead them to the promised land of post-season play once again, and maybe to a championship this time, was alone on the field. Rounding the bases.
Not just rounding the bases.
No. Gibson was between first and second, faking a limp, and pumping his fist in at his side. He was recreating his famous home run trot from Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. And sobbing.
When he touched home, he gave out imaginary high fives to imaginary teammates and let out an audible, “Yeah!”
Then, he did it again. He took a swing with an imaginary bat, hit a phantom pitch into the right field stands, and started hobbling around the bases again.
He did it the exact same way, with the exact same high fives, the yelp, all of it. Over and over again. Upton and Young lost count, standing there silently in the shadows, watching their leader relive his greatest moment time after time after time. The swing. The hobble. The fist pump. The swing. The hobble. The fist pump.
After some time — maybe ten minutes, maybe two hours — Upton and Young slipped back into the park unseen. Not saying a word to each other, they got in their separate cars and drove home. They never spoke of it again, not Gibson, not to each other, and not to anyone else.
Los Angeles Dodgers (80-82)
When Frank McCourt’s spirit became trapped in the walls of the parking garage, Los Angeles was freed.
When Frank McCourt’s spirit became trapped in the walls of the parking garage, Ned Colletti gained total awareness. He realized what a terrible, old-timey GM he was, and he began to weep.
When Frank McCourt’s spirit became trapped in the walls of the parking garage, Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp began to laugh spontaneously, though they didn’t understand why.
When Frank McCourt’s spirit became trapped in the walls of the parking garage, the Giants fan who was almost beaten to death at a Dodgers game last year, and whom McCourt laid partial blame for the incident upon, felt warmth in his heart.
When Frank McCourt’s spirit became trapped in the walls of the parking garage, Jamie McCourt’s spirit became trapped alongside it.
When Frank McCourt’s spirit became trapped in the walls of the parking garage, a song filled Chavez Ravine, a song that sounded like elven magic.
When Frank McCourt’s spirit became trapped in the walls of the parking garage, Dodger Dogs tasted a little sweeter that day, and their taste mixed more perfectly with beer.
When Frank McCourt’s spirit became trapped in the walls of the parking garage, the parking rates dropped 20%. The traffic congestion within the structure eased and relaxed.
When Frank McCourt’s spirit became trapped in the walls of the parking garage, Dodgers fans all came to the ballpark, all bought tickets at the game, all cheered on the team, all had a gay time.
When Frank McCourt’s spirit became trapped in the walls of the parking garage, Donnie Baseball’s mustache grew back overnight.
When Frank McCourt’s spirit became trapped in the walls of the parking garage, Vin Scully felt a chill, took a deep breath, then a sip of water. Then he continued, “2-1 count here on the batter in a very big spot…”
San Diego Padres (74-88)
When he was on the mound, Tim Stauffer thought about pitching and nothing but. He thought about the man in the batter’s box, his strengths and weaknesses, and his own history against that man. He thought about pitch patterns and catcher’s signs and umpire variance. He thought about the score and the situation and the importance of getting ground balls. He thought about what he was supposed to think about.
When he was off the mound though, in the dugout, or the clubhouse, or the bullpen, Tim Stauffer thought about her. He thought about that summer.
2002. The Cape Cod League. He pitched like a motherfucking dominant ace that summer, like the stud prospect that he was. He put the Chatham A’s on his back and carried them through to August.
But oh, that girl. Those days on the beach. Those nights building bonfires and going to parties at houses where neither of them knew anyone there. Making love on the dunes. Strolling hand in hand through Provincetown. He would think of her hair while he pitched, and she would inspire him to throw harder, to snap his slider off tighter.
The whole summer seemed to go by in ten minutes, and it’s been stuck in his brain (and his heart) ever since. Where was she now? Was she married? Did she still think about him too?
She would wait for him in the parking lots after games, and they’d just drive. No destination…just driving, his hand on her thigh. They’d go to Chatham Fish Pier and watch the seals beg for a meal. They’d go to the cheesy souvenir shops and try on ridiculous T-shirts. They were so fucking in love.
Or…shit…was he just thinking of Summer Catch with Freddie Prinze Jr.?
Colorado Rockies (69-93)
Troy Tulowitzki and Ubaldo Jimenez used to be inseparable. They were closer to each other than to anyone else on the team. Some other guys were even jealous of their friendship. They roomed together on the road, and went out to dinner together at home. Just the two of them. They viewed themselves as the future of the Rockies. One would lead the offense, the other would lead the pitching. They’d get a ring for Denver. They would.
Some years later, now on opposing teams, in different leagues, Ubaldo drilled Troy with a pitch during spring training. Just fucking drilled him.Like an intending-to-injure drilling.
The in-between years are lost to the ravages of history. All we know is that there are some whispers about a threeway in the humidor gone awry. And Jason Giambi. Jason Giambi was DEFINITELY INVOLVED.