I used to write for a newspaper. Not full-time, mind you, but I spent a summer covering the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks for the Los Angeles Times.
It was fun, in that way that passing someone on a two-lane road is fun when you get to that critical point where you’re fully committed but no longer sure that it was a smart or safe idea.
My first deadline was five minutes after the game ended; my second was usually about 15-20 minutes after that, which, if everything happened smoothly, was enough time to ask a question or two, record a quote or two, transcribe a quote or two, and have a nice game story.
The result was that I always crossed my fingers for straightforward games, so I could write my article while the game was happening, adjust a few pertinent details post-buzzer, and smoothly move on with life. Fourth quarter shenanigans were my nemesis.
Andrew Baggarly, the incomparable San Francisco Giants writer, has said that the only Giants players he’ll draft to his fantasy team are the closers — because while he doesn’t root for the Giants, he always roots for a smooth ninth inning, so the game story doesn’t need dramatic alterations. The cruel irony is that the worst enemy of a sportswriter on deadline is an interesting game.
So where am I going with this, and what does it have to do with the Giants 9-4 win over the Texas Rangers?
I don’t write on deadline anymore, a fact that is probably frustratingly apparent to readers of this site. I can take my time writing articles, and even fill them with 200-word personal essays in place of the lede, as you just witnessed.
I can write a story in the fifth inning, scrap it when the game looks completely different in the seventh inning, and settle on a third story when the final out is recorded. When the narrative arc of a game zigs and zags more than the portion of Highway 1 that I grew up on, I can zig and zag with it with minimal stress. I can even enjoy it!
For example: in the sixth inning, with the Giants leading 2-1, Alex Wood walked two different hitters and then allowed a game-tying double. He was replaced by Jarlin García, who walked a batter and then allowed a two-run double.
Three runs on two hits. I drafted an article. It looked like this.
In the eighth inning I had to delete my masterpiece when Mike Tauchman, inhabitant of the lower east side of the Mendoza Line, came up with the bases loaded and two outs, with the Giants still trailing 4-2.
He did this.
I started a new article. It looked like this.
Then in the ninth inning Brandon Crawford did this.
It was Crawford’s second dinger — along with two walks, a handful of stellar defensive plays, and a franchise record-setting 1,326th game at shortstop — so Tauchman was no longer the main, or only story. And it was a three-run bomb, which would have given the Giants the lead even without Tauchman ordering the Grand Salami from the deli, so my silly 2 WAR statement no longer held true.
So I started over again, and now we’re at this part of the story.
That Crawford home run made the score 9-4, and neither team would score again. But remember how I said he had another one?
Here it is.
And remember how I said he had some great defensive plays? Here’s one.
About a month ago we were talking about how cool it was that Crawford was in the All-Star discussion. Now he’s firmly in the MVP discussion.
And a franchise leader.
Elsewhere in the game, Brandon Belt returned, and had three hits and a walk. But, as has been the rule for the Giants this year, one player cannot become healthy if there’s not a sacrificial lamb, and Alex Dickerson was that sacrificial lamb, as he exited the game with a back issue.
The Giants used six relievers, and none gave up a run (the double García allowed only scored runs attributed to Wood). LaMonte Wade Jr. had a three-hit game, and Buster Posey a two-hit game. The Padres lost.
The Rangers also lost. Because they played the Giants, who took us all on a wild ride of numerous stories before tucking us into bed, happy with a win.