Dear Farhan Zaidi, Sam Harris, Gabe Kapler and Giants Staff:
Whew! If that incredible, short, sharp blast of games was a vision of what can be expected in the years to come, I am very excited for what we are embarking on, which for organizational purposes I call The Farhan Zaidi Era.
For me as a fan, it’s simple because the 21st century for the San Francisco Giants has been neatly divided into two eras thus far:
The Barry Bonds Era and The Bruce Bochy Era.
Each came with apex accolades in which we thrilled and sad nadirs we suffered together, as fans of the Orange and Black.
I am very proud to be a Giants fan, always have been, always will. We have history and cherished Hall-of-Famers and Freaks and Boch and Barry Lamar and magic wandoo and torture to bind us – sometimes against the world. And the best park in baseball.
The Farhan Zaidi Era began with a concentration of power into Mr. Zaidi’s office, President of Baseball Operations, that allowed him to clean house of recent unfortunate mistakes and begin the process of SABRmetric-driven decision-making: moneyball. It is also the period when we are most cash-operable, having paid off the stadium.
To his credit, Mr. Zaidi didn’t rush into rapid-fire changes. He was slow and measured about selecting a manager, interviewing at least a half-dozen candidates – including in-house guys like Ron Wotus – before deciding on a young and eager Mr. Kapler.
Mr. Zaidi was even slower about hiring a GM, leaving the general manager position vacant his first season in San Francisco. He announced former Chicago Cubs assistant, Mr. Harris, had been hired as the 10th general manager in franchise history only after November 1st, 2019 – less than a year ago.
The first year, Mr. Zaidi was easy-going about the rabid Bochy Era fans who literally yelled at him in public to keep Bumgarner. He brought back and then eased out the Panda and Hunter Pence to allow them and the fans a chance to have a last goodbye. He was exceptionally sensitive to us and measured with an emotional fan base.
But he has also been ruthless, swift and cultured in making aggressive moves. He has pushed for and asserted the agenda of the Kapler management approach – lotsa moves, sometimes just in one game – that takes SABRmetrics heavily into account. This caused a whiplash-like effect for many fans since it’s a drastic change from Skip’s style of the Bruce Bochy Era.
But I realized something about this group that I appreciate so much that I added it to this blog’s motto:
It’s not personal, it’s personnel.
The whiplash was exacerbated by the crazy, 60-game, Covid-shortened season. The season was supposed to be a long, slow rebuilding year and we expected to be in the cellar again. My lawyer called us “a quadruple-A team” when we started.
Then Covid-19 struck. The season was tossed out. New parameters were set. But new parameters and flexibility on the fly are what the new Giants are built for, and wow! did we perform!
I want to begin by thanking each and every one of you for your efforts to allow us not only to field a team this year, but to allow them to travel and play elsewhere free of illness, properly quarantined. Well done.
San Francisco has led in being a smart, public-health conscious city. Mayor Breed and the council have done an incredible job. You all represent our city and you did it very well. I was worried.
It was a shame that the false positive harshly interrupted our rhythm, but it was testimony to our good public health decision-making that we erred on the side of caution and shut it down for two days to test again and contact trace.
I was very proud we not only overcame what turned out to be a false positive test with extreme caution, but that we were able to host another team, the Seattle Mariners, when conditions in their area were too unhealthy in which to compete.
This was an exceptional job under extreme, unprecedented circumstances and I am proud of how you handled it.
However, seeing employees of the SF Giants circling the park and honking their horns during games in August and September and interviewing a few of them on the streets, I was quite distressed. I get that it’s Covid-19 wreaking havoc on everybody’s budgets, but it was sad to hear how many serious labor-management issues exist. We have to take care of our people who take care of our players and fans, guys. I hope you remedy that situation first this offseason.
The irregular season of 2020 started with an absurd number of errors and clunky games, but it wasn’t like I expected much. I was just so happy to have baseball back. What a horrible year it had been and how relaxing and soothing the normalcy of baseball was – even this crazy-rules, rock-n-roll version!
But then members of our team, managed by Mr. Kapler and company, began to have shining moments.
Donovan Solano was first, Mike Yastrzemski next, two guys who have been working hard, hanging around baseball a long time having it click and making it happen. Then the young guys, Flores and Dubon. Then Longo and Belt got into the act and all of a sudden we had turned the thing around. Then it was new dad Alex Dickerson’s turn.
What a year batting we had! Talk about whiplash! Giants batting was a 180-degree change from The Bochy Era. What we learned about closing off the alleways and the park’s new dimensions is that our guys could go off!
We went on that incredible tear, climbed back up to .500 and we genuinely looked like a playoff team before the double-whammy of the false-positive Covid-19 test and the fire-stained skies that made air unbreathable and play impossible in Seattle.
Whatever happens today and tomorrow, whether we make the playoffs or not, this year has to be called an unequivocal success for the San Francisco Giants.
Amidst all the madness of the year – illness, fire, smoke and ash – the Giants gave us an exciting, fun team to watch with thrilling moments and even a playoff race chase. Thank you.
I have a feeling your management team will prove to be a very successful one for us and I wanted to have a token, a totem of when it all started, this goofy cardboard cutout will do nicely.
If we make the playoffs, I will continue writing here, but if not, this will be my last Giants Baseball Corner entry for 2020. Concluding with our last lineup of the year.
The San Francisco Giants will take on the San Diego Padres at Oracle Park in a couple of hours for the last game of the irregular season of 2020. Left handed pitcher Adrian Morejon (2-2, 4.86) will be on the mound for the Friars.
Gabe Kapler and the Giants counter with Drew Smyly on the mound, who will be supported on defense by this batting lineup:
Austin Slater (DH)
Mike Yastrzemski (RF)
Darin Ruf (LF)
Wilmer Flores (2B)
Brandon Belt (1B)
Evan Longoria (3B)
Mauricio Dubon (CF)
Brandon Crawford (ss)
Joey Bart (c)
Let’s Go Giants! Beat the Pads! Let’s get the win, mathemagically get into the playoffs, go down to Chavez Ravine and #BeatLA!
I want to go get the Bums! Make it happen.
I’m the author and editor-in-chief, Karthik Rajan, saying
Let’s Go Giants! Vamanos Gigantes! Yes! Yes! Yes!