What’s gotten into the San Francisco Giants, recently, what with them reeling off six consecutive victories? The streak included two, three-game sweeps, the first and second of the season. The Giants are getting excellent pitching, clutch hits and the call-ups are sparkling.
MLB recognized the bullpen’s success, naming it bullpen of the week.
Again, what’s gotten into the Giants? Though I hear the question everywhere, I do not see any responses that come close to mine. What I think has gotten into the lads, is a return of Team Confidence. What prompted this development?
The six-game winning streak began on Monday, June 26th, following the Sunday night return to professional baseball, of Madison Bumgarner. All he did was throw three innings of no-hit ball. Granted, it was against the Arizona Rookie League Angels, but he has to start somewhere.
Is this merely coincidence, that the win streak began the following day? I think not. I wrote last April that the season was effectively over. Let’s face it: A team cannot lose a player like MadBum, and expect to survive the loss. The Giants currently have the second-worst record in MLB.
However, confidence is the difference between Buster Posey and the dude who works down on the farm. You know the guy-he hit over .400 in the minors, but couldn’t in the bigs. He thought he had it made because he could hammer a 100-mile-an-hour fastball.
One day he was stellar-the next he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. When a player loses his confidence, he loses any chance he has of overcoming the opposition. When a team loses its confidence, the same thing occurs.
Think of it as Team Confidence. The Giants had it in 2010, 2012 and in 2014. It didn’t matter who was at the plate; he knew he didn’t have to do it all by himself. If the one dude could not get it done, the guy following him would. Conversely, when a team struggles, players try to take on the game, alone.
If each is swinging for the fences, every time he bats, then it means he doesn’t have team confidence. He doesn’t believe that the guy behind him can get it done. Players who lose a major contributor, sometimes feel they have to assume too much weight.
The result, at least in this case, is that the Giants went down harder than MadBum’s dirt bike. Even though Bumgarner had begun the season winless in four decisions, he was still the kingpin. He was still the head honcho; he was still The Man.
You don’t achieve much success when you lose The Man.
The Giants knew it, collectively, despite what they said to Amy G. They knew knew it instinctively, because there was too great of a void, to pretend they could leap over it. The team staggered, it reeled and it collapsed.
Seasoned players went through the motions, and the media christened the team “boring.” This prompted Bruce Bochy to utter his epic mouse turds statement, and the fuse was lit. Was it Bochy taking key veterans aside, to speak to them privately, that did the trick?
Was it the truth that the whole “boring team” story was indeed, “pole vaulting over mouse turds?” Who knows? The next time I’m sitting in the bleachers with the baseball gods, I’ll ask them. Otherwise, I’m sticking to my belief that the team is simply responding to good news. It’s the best news possible.
The guy who shouldered-and won-the 2014 World Series was coming back. I am not suggesting that the team will make the playoffs in 2017; that ship has sailed. That being said, the addition to the team of such players as Austin Slater, Jae-gyun Hwang and even Ty Blach, for that matter, is frosting on the cake.
Make no mistake who the cake is, though, and the cake is coming back. With him, he is bringing Team Confidence.