The Giants is dead.
That's what Brooklyn Dodgers manager Charlie Dressen said in 1953. He was right.
It's been nearly 60 years and both the Giants and the Dodgers are a whole continent removed from their early-'50s homes in New York.
But after losing to the Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon, the 2011 Giants is indeed dead: seven full games out of first place with 22 games left.
How did this happen? Most of us had the Giants winning the West again this season; none of us had the Diamondbacks winning. Yet the first of those almost definitely won't happen, and the second almost definitely will.
The Giants' pitching has been almost exactly as brilliant as advertised; their hitting has been much worse.
The Diamondbacks pitching has been much better than advertised; so has their hitting, their spitting, and their dugout nose-picking. You name it, and the Diamondbacks have done it better than expected.
Still, on the morning of August 15, the Giants still owned a two-game lead over the second-place Diamondbacks. Since then the Giants have lost
- three of four to the Braves,
- two of three to the Astros,
- one of two to the Padres,
- two of four to the Astros,
- two of three to the Cubs, and
- now two of three to the Diamondbacks.
Six series, four of them against losing teams, and not a single series win.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks never lose. Which is how you get a nine-game standings swing in less than three weeks.
Ultimately, there's probably lesson here: These teams are what they are. While the Giants piled up an impressive record in the first four-plus months of the season, their run differential never matched that record. "But run differential doesn't matter!" cried the fans. "This team just knows how to win!" they bawled.
Yeah. Teams always know how to win. Until, you know, they don't.
There's your story, then. The Giants simply forgot how to win.
Maybe next year they'll remember. Those Giants in 1953, who were indeed dead? In 1954, they won the World Series.