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The String, And How It Gets Played Out

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So this is how the other half lives. Resignation. (Whelp, I guess Mike Kickham isn't the answer.) Bemusement. (Hector Sanchez did what behind the plate? That's gotta hurt!) Melancholy. (Brian Wilson, Los Angeles Dodger.) A strange becalmed feeling.

In some movies, that strange becalmed feeling segues into a 20-foot shark who has several tricks for tipping human morsels out of a boat. In others, it turns into a languid summer study of French teenagers who get to second base before their parents take them home to start school. They're a little wiser, a little sadder, and they look fantastic smoking Gitanes.

I think we're all in the latter boat. Not that I encourage any of you to take up le tabac, but sometimes you need a few minutes at the end of the day, when the world is turning down the bedsheets, to light up and reflect.

bochCigar2.JPGThink of the next 45 days as a much-needed break. Not from baseball itself -- because, dear Lord, no one needs that -- but from success. Enough already with the grotesque knuckle extensions otherwise known as rings, the attitude, the blare of trumpets, The Franchise, the expectations. I'm OK with this, as long as the movie we're living in doesn't turn into the other scenario, where a few moments of bobbing aimlessly on the waves turns into years of grisly half-chewed sausage sold under brands such as "Royals" or "Cubs." What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but can we keep the not-killing-us part as brief as possible?

That requires playing out the string -- or, in our case, watching grown men in polyester playing out the string -- with some happy goals in mind. I laid out some of them a couple weeks ago: Rest Buster Posey and Marco Scutaro, don't grind down Cain and Bumgarner, evaluate Kieschnick. So far, that's generally been the plan. Don't worry about turning off the fans in September who paid a couple large to drive in from Turlock only to see Buster Posey pinch-hitting for Brett Pill in the ninth.

If the Giants play it smart, then in the off-season make a couple shrewd moves, they could be well set up for 2014. They'll be unfashionable again, overwhelming underdogs -- just how we like it. Knock on wood, but let's count on fresh arms for Cain, Bumgarner and Vogelsong. A well-rested Posey. The knowledge that an aging Scutaro with season-long cranky back and (let's not forget) a mallet finger can still hit .303 / .358 / .375, so by all means get that back fixed. A new middle-of-the-order hitter in Brandon Belt. A motivated Pablo Sandoval in his contract year. Other than the catching position, they won't win a single personnel matchup with the Dodgers, so don't even bother. But they could field a good team, and that's really all we ask.

One piece of the wait-til-next-year story I'm not convinced about is the Tim Lincecum revival, though it's made good copy for the beat writers. Perhaps we can call it a half-way harkening: he's throttled the mediocre teams, but the only good team he's pitched well against recently is Tampa Bay. A guy can make a major-league living in roughing up the weaksters, but I'd like to see a few good showings against the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks, et al -- his next start should be Sunday against Pittsburgh -- before I full-throatedly advocate for his return in 2014. If we knew he would simply accept the qualifying offer -- one year, roughly $14 million -- I'd say his current level of performance justifies making it. But I don't want to see a multi-year commitment that blocks, say, Kyle Crick or Edwin Escobar in 2015, or prevents the Giants from making a surgical free-agent strike. Let's get the chant going now: Ku-Ro-Da. Ku-Ro-Da. Ku-Ro-Da. It sure sounds better than that half-hearted "Let's Go Pablo" you mumble along with the canned sound effects (Eee-eee Eee-eee / Clap Clap ClapClapClap) squeezing through the stadium speakers. 

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