One of the nice things about the Internet is that you can make friends with like-minded folks who don’t necessarily live in your neck of the woods. Two of the best baseball friends I’ve made online over the years are Gregg and Jonathan. Gregg lives in the Bay Area, Jonathan hasn’t lived here since his grad school days. Gregg has been a Giants fan long enough that he has a good Giants-related story to tell no matter what the purported topic might be, which makes him a fine companion at a ballgame. Jonathan is the proverbial gentleman and scholar … it’s the latter that impresses the most when it comes to baseball, because he’s very good at stepping back from the knee-jerk response and taking a more measured, analytical view of the situation.
Gregg and I went to the Giants game today, and it happened that Jonathan was in the area for a family event, and that family was all at the ballpark as well. He stopped by for a couple of innings … luckily, the seat next to me was empty, so there were the three of us, sitting together, enjoying our actual face-to-face presence, since even though we’ve known each other for, oh, I don’t know, fifteen years, we rarely see each other in “real life.”
OK, I can accept that much (not all!) of our conversation was about baseball … it’s how we met, and we were at the ballgame, after all. What sticks with me, though, as I look back on the day, is how focused our chat was. Oh, we tossed in a “remember when” once in awhile, but mostly, we talked about Giants’ general manager Brian Sabean. I don’t want to say we were critical, but when I’m the most pro-Sabean person in the discussion (“I” being someone who was quoted in a newspaper article about Sabean because even when things were going well for Brian, I was always ready to diss him), you know we weren’t exactly having a Sabes love fest.
The thing is this: even as we watched the Giants win the game, the thing we kept going back to was the job the general manager had done, was doing, and will do in the future. I suppose all fans do this, but for some reason, it really struck me this time … we obsess about this man, because we don’t trust him to do the right things. None of us, as far as I can remember, specifically said that the Giants would never succeed until Sabean was gone (not that we haven’t thought it in the past, it just went unsaid today). But it was underlying pretty much all of our comments.
The Giants’ future looks good, they have plenty of good talent in the system, in many ways this is the most optimistic I’ve felt about the club for a long time. Yet all we could think of was “I hope Brian doesn’t fuck it up.”