Sunday, May 24, 2015

Catching Lightning in a Bottle

My primary imprinting in sports metaphors came from my father. In fact, it was one of the few things that we consistently enjoyed doing together throughout our tempestuous relationship—watching sports and talking about sports. 

[As readers of this blog will know, I love metaphors, and this entry will be my semi-annual indulgence in the fathomless richness and depth of sports metaphor. I have a few dedicated readers who tell me they can't understand a single thing I'm saying when I do this. If you are among them, hit delete now.]

Catching lightning in a bottle refers to some improbable achievement (the biblical equivalent is getting a camel through the eye of a needle). Like Joe DiMaggio hitting safely in 56 straight games in 1941, or Wilt the Stilt burning the New York Knicks for 100 points in 1962.

It comes to mind because, for the second time in three years, my beloved San Francisco Giants swept the dog-ass Dodgers three games at home, without allowing them to score a single run. While it's borderline amazing that I saw this happen once in my lifetime, it absolutely boggles the mind to grok that I've seen it happen twice. (See They Could Be Giants for more on the first time.) In fact, it's the second time this month that their pitching staff has served up nothing but goose eggs for three straight games. As Harry Carey would have put it, "Holy cow!"

(As an aside, the finale featured the third dream pairing this season of last year's World Series MVP, Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, going against last year's National League MVP, Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw, and the Giants have won all three contests. How sweet it is.)

What does this all mean? Hard to say. The reality is that the Giants lost their popular third baseman, Pablo "Kung-fu Panda" Sandoval (he of the roly poly physique, nimble hands, and freewheeling swing) to free agency and the Boston Red Sox in the off season and haven't been able to manifest a serious bat to replace him in their light-hitting lineup. Plus, it's an odd year and the Giants' good fortune has (so far) only aligned for post-season success in even years (having won the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014). So, as auspicious as back-to-back-to-back shutouts are, who knows where this will lead. Even after the sweep, the Giants were still a game-and-a-half back of the Dodgers in the National League West, so plenty of work remains and we're only at the quarter pole.

To illustrate how quirky the vicissitudes of baseball are, picture this: immediately after the sublime performance by the Giants' pitching staff that held Los Angeles to oh for Baghdad by the Bay, the team traveled to Colorado and prevailed 11-8 and 10-8 in back-to-back slugfests in the bandbox that is Coors Field, where shutouts are as hard to come by as potato seed. It's a strange game.

I wish my father were around to share this with, but at least I have my son. Like my father before him, Ceilee is a dyed-in-the-wool Cardinal fan (who are doing well in the NL Central, thank you), but we can unite in our love for baseball, as well as our distaste for the dog-ass Dodgers.

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