I will argue that the San Francisco Giants, far more than any other franchise in Major League Baseball, have in recent years established the glorious, enormous, splendiferous improbability of a single baseball season. With Tuesday night’s events in Queens just the latest, arguably greatest example.
It’s always worth recalling, I think, that in their first 52 seasons in San Francisco, the Giants won precisely zero World Series.
Not two. Not even one. Zero. O for 52.
In their 53rd season, they won the World Series.
In their 55th season, they won the World Series.
In their 57th season, they won the World Series.
In the last five years, the San Francisco Giants have won three more World Series than a) they had won in the previous 52 years, b) the Cleveland Indians have won in the last 66 years, and c) the Chicago Cubs have won in the last one million years.
Okay, so that’s a team thing. Things. Wildly, wonderfully improbable team things.
Then we’ve got the player things. I mean, even leaving Travis Ishikawa aside.
The San Diego Padres have been around since 1969. Yet the Padres have never – not in my lifetime, not in your lifetime, not in their lifetime – had one of their pitchers throw a no-hitter. The New York Mets have been around even longer (longer than me, even) and can claim just one no-hitter (with a good-sized asterisk) in their whole history.
The San Francisco Giants have pitched five no-hitters since 2009.
The third of those came in 2013, when Tim Lincecum no-hit the Padres. He finished that season with an ERA well above the league average.
The fourth of those came in 2014, when Tim Lincecum no-hit the Padres. He finished that season with an ERA well above the league average.
Let’s take a moment and marvel over this. Two summers ago, the Giants designated Chris Heston for assignment, which essentially means the organization didn’t believe he was one of their 40 best baseball players with some real experience. Since he cleared waivers, that also means a) the Giants weren’t able to find anyone interested in trading for Heston, and b) there also wasn’t anyone who thought Heston was worth a spot on their 40-man roster.
Anybody could have had Chris Heston. Probably more than once. After becoming a free agent, he did re-sign with the Giants, presumably because nobody else really wanted him.
Heston did establish himself as a viable No. 5/6 starter with a solid 2014 in Triple-A, which at least began to create the possibility that he might do something special in 2015.
But just a remote possibility. In spring training this year, he wasn’t the Giants’ No. 5 starter. Or their No. 6 starter. Fans of Yusmeiro Petit might not even have considered Heston the Giants’ No. 7 starter.
But Matt Cain went down, and then Jake Peavy went down, and all the while Petit remained in the bullpen. Which left room for the 27-year-old rookie who nobody really wanted two years ago. First to stick in the rotation – before Tuesday night in Queens, he sported the lowest FIP in the Giants’ heralded rotation – and then to … oh, I don’t know, maybe throw more no-hitters (1) in one game than the San Diego Padres have thrown in more than 7,000.
Hey, maybe the Giants’ luck is about to turn, for the worse. Maybe the Padres’ luck is about to turn, for the better. Seems like it’s about time, right?
Then again, if everything goes according to schedule, Chris Heston’s pitching against the Padres on the 25th of this month.