The actual All-Star Game took the wind out of my sails pretty fast. Tim wasn't quite himself, and if I stood back and squinted real hard, I could kind of look at him objectively and see where fans of other elite pitchers might wonder why their guy didn't get picked to start instead. Someone like Dan Haren maybe, whose ERA and strikeout totals are quite comparable to Tim's and whose WHIP is straight insane. Haren deserved the honor just as much, based on stats alone. But as we know, the All-Star Game isn't exactly a meritocracy. (One look at Shane Victorino's shiny assface will tell you that.) It's a huge marketing tool for the MLB, and when you try to drum up interest in your product, you gotta show the people the best you've got. And herein I took my silver lining from the ASG. Tim has all the star power and intrigue that Haren just doesn't generate. It's in no way a slam on Haren, who I'd put on my staff in half a heartbeat, but further proof of what I've believed since Tim made his major league debut: He stands for everything that is good in the game of baseball. Not just talent and athleticism, which plenty of players have in spades, but charisma, character, charm, and a bunch of other words that start with "ch-," not to mention strong competitiveness, a sense of humor, and always the understanding that this is a game to be played and enjoyed. I'll stop just short of praising his hair (but what volume!).
As for the pitching performance, it was not what we've come to expect, and Tim himself admitted he was nervous. It reminded me of his Opening Day start, which -- I hate to say it -- leads me to question his ability to pitch in big games. But that's a tiny niggling doubt that belongs nowhere near a gushy fangirl post.
So, following a disheartening road trip that featured an extra-innings loss, the implosion of Sadowski and and a pitifully weak offense, we are back at home and winning. Matt and Tim continue to pitch brilliantly; Pablo is hitting again. The additions of Garko and Sanchez are interesting, votes of confidence in a team that wasn't expected to be in the position to trade into playoff contention. I don't think Garko can do worse than Bowker, Aurilia and Ishikawa have, although I did have hopes for Ishi to eventually become the everyday first baseman. Bonus: I have a penchant for players who actually finished their college degrees, even if they did graduate from Stanfurd. (Joey Martinez, heal up!) Sanchez, despite being more of a marquee player, is a bigger question mark. The knee, the prospect we gave up, and his production of late are all factoring into my ambivalence, but I will say: second base has been upgraded, no two ways about it. In all, the Giants are simply a better team now (though, depending on what Alderson does, at the expense of the future?). We're still lacking that big bat that will erase our underdog status -- with all due respect to Bengie, the cleanup situation is embarrassing -- but I kinda like the underdog status. That's where so much of the magic comes from, those little moments that defy the odds and inspire us to believe.Now let's use that magic to fucking demolish the Phillies.