The worst thing about the World Series is the day off between Games 2 and 3. We haven’t seen enough actual baseball to make useful conclusions, but the demand for narrative-churning argle-bargle is as great as ever.
Thus, the City of Kansas Royals and the Francisco of San Giants took Thursday off to consider the intriguing world order that comes when two disparate but relatively even teams run into each other repeatedly.
And the rest of us demanded to know why Bruce Bochy turned into an idiot, why Hunter Strickland can’t be shipped out of town in a steamer trunk, how Tim Lincecum is going to contrive standing next to the umpires for the seventh-inning stretch when the Royals are on the field, and why World Series titles just don’t automatically fall into the Giants’ collective lap based on its essentially Giant-y Giantness.
The answer to the last one is easy -- because winning is harder than the Giants made it look in 2010 and ’12. And the rest of it is simply the vagaries of the game. Bochy tried to hit on 16 and pulled an eight. Strickland is learning face-first how a fast fastball isn’t treated with respect when it is also flat. And Lincecum, well, who the hell knows any more? Certainly not the Timmy-centric portion of the fan base. But the heart wants what the heart wants, and the heart is typically as delusional as it is adamant.
But the next three games will provide a sense of order that the series has not yet produced. Three games in succession, where normal bullpen rules are more likely to be applied, and the players have a better idea of what their opponents believe them capable.
Indeed, the only wild card left to deal with is the fact the Royals could be unfamiliar with the vagaries of the Giants’ ballpark -- the Inebriate Navy, the garlic fries, the bullpens on the field, the pitching mound, the occasional wind, the everything-must-be-sold-at-thrice-retail pricing strategy, the right-center field space that has recently been zoned for residential expansion, and the twilight shadows.
Only four Royals starters -- Omar Infante, Alcides Escobar, Nori Aoki and Lorenzo Cain -- have ever hit there, and only Infante evades the Small Sample Size Police. Only one pitcher, Game 3 starter Jeremy Guthrie, does the same, if you call 50 hitters faced a sufficient deterrent to the 3SP. In other words, if Le Grande Telephone has magical powers or just nasty quirks, they may rear their ugly little tentacles in the next three days.
But I wouldn’t bet on it.
The idiosyncrasies of the first two games are likely to be sanded down and assimilated into a larger and more coherent piece starting Friday. World Series tend to find their own equilibrium right about this stage of the proceedings, and besides, if you’re still looking for outliers, you need only to look at one factor.
Tim Lincecum -- Zen Warlock, Improvisational Comedian, Otherworldly Existentialist, and The Narrative That Will Live On Even After All Of Us Are Long And Safely Dead. Name-That-Telecom-Company Ballpark may be The House That Bonds Built, but it is also The House That Lincecum Painted Paisley, Plaid And Purple with the Cheeto-color Trim.
And let’s face it, kids -- he will haunt the joint forever, beginning again tomorrow evening.