The Giants win in even years; it is written. It was written even in these pages: here, and here, and here. And now we’ve done it. We’ve really done it. All that talk about even years and dynasties — we just had to go and jinx the Giants, didn’t we?
And look what it’s done. The Giants — who went into the All-Star break 6.5 games up in the NL West — have gone 5–13 since, easily their worst stretch of the year. On Thursday, only a 10th-inning Denard Span home run allowed them to avert a sweep by the 50–60 Phillies, a series in which the Phanatic all but jumped on the shoulders of Madison Bumgarner — who prior to Tuesday had only ever allowed six or more runs in the first two innings of a game twice in his entire career — and trumpeted his honker. San Francisco’s lead over the Dodgers in the West has now been diced to two.
Is it becoming reprehensible to be a Giants fan? It’s certainly getting harder to defend. Are there great teams whose long-suffering fan bases have infinitely more of a karmic right to a parade than a city that’s had three in the past six years? Yes. Of course. Are Giants fans in 2016 soft, spoiled weaklings whose miseries feel so long ago now that they might as well not have happened, and who now feel entitled to success to the point where they clutch their hearts and look for someone to blame when it flickers? Well.
I know. I can hear the oblique muscles in your eye socket straining as you twirl your eyeballs. This is not a sympathetic situation. You’re right. I’m sorry. The Giants don’t need another trophy, and especially not one at the cost of clubs that haven’t held one in, say, 108 years; San Francisco and its fans would go more or less happily on their way in October, off to a SpaceX test flight or a latte art competition or one of the two nice beach days a year.
But did we really have to jinx them? You heard it a little in 2012; by the time the 2014 playoff run got going, it was everywhere: even-year magic, guys! Can’t lose! Even-year magic gave a black eye to the poor, nice Royals, whose only four losses of the postseason had the misfortune of coming in the World Series. Then, in 2015, as the Giants meandered to an 84–78 record and missed the playoffs entirely, it became even louder: Well, you know, no reason to get upset — it’s an odd year. Has “It’s just not their year” ever been used mathematically before?
So by the time 2016 rolled around, people were ready when the Giants burst out of the gate, going 21–8 in May. It wasn’t even just Giants fans this time: The reason your poor, nice team was getting beaten up by various Brandons wasn’t because your team was bad, or even necessarily because San Francisco was good. It was that it had been cosmically ordained.
But that is not how the baseball gods work. The only promise they make is: Bad things will happen to those who insult them. Attributing them with a promise they never made? Well, I know I wouldn’t like it. What they do love: jinxes. And this sure seems like one to me.
The Giants are now trying to use earthly measures, in the form of Will Smith and Matt Moore, to make this year look a little less odd. Maybe they’ll be successful. But if they aren’t, at least we’ll finally be rid of all that even-year magic.