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Giant Story Lines Of The Year

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Six more games. Six more. Six. Once they're over you might look down and tell yourself, damn, self, here it's the end of September and you've gone again and wasted 500 hours of your life on this nutty nutty game, no, probably a lot more than that. Add to the actual games the post-game wraps and Marty Lurie weekend shows, the N-Judah rides to 2nd and King, the walks down the Embarcadero, all those midnight replays and Internet canoodling.

Do I hear a thousand? 1,200? Five hundred hours is nearly 21 days, so anything north of that gets really weird. Please don't tell my wife. Mrs. Malo caught me watching the 49ers game Sunday as I dressed for our anniversary dinner date, and her lower lip trembled. Her voice shook, and then she wailed: "You're not going to watch... football... too? Are you?"

I turned it off, which was just as well. The Niners in September are looking like the Giants in June. If you're going to implode, make it astonishing and definitive. Things fall apart, and all that. (Speaking of which, here's a taste of what's likely an integral piece of my next rotation.)

Despite the bad-penniness, there have been some great Giant moments this year. Angel Pagan's game-winning inside the park home run could go down as one of the most exciting plays in major league history, and if you squint, became part of one the season's larger narrative threads: That mad dash in May turned into an 81-game injury which turned into a surprising and heartening return in September, making us all rue what could have been if he hadn't popped his tendon.

The Yusmiero Petit near-perfect game is part of a thread of six starts, perhaps seven if he goes this weekend, but even a tireless yarn-spinner like Andy Baggarly can't make too much of it at this point. It won't really pick up steam until next spring.

One story I love, perhaps because it needs no next chapter, is Juan Perez in New York. The kid with the iron arm and feather-light bat picks his homecoming not just for a spectacular throw but a week's worth of big hits, three in the exact location where he played ball and ran around as a kid. Go no further. No need to make the team next year, or even play organized baseball. Cut, print. Save Your Hits For Home: The Juan Perez Story. It's so damn hermetically sealed. OK, perhaps not a two-hour screenplay. A Junot Diaz short story? Maybe a poem above your head in a crowded subway car? 

Speaking of New York, "wait 'til next year" has been the uber-thread running through all Giant story lines this season, and it's even turned the biggest psychodrama into more of a cool-eyed roster exercise. It seemed inevitable all winter and spring that 2013 would be Tim Lincecum's farewell lap in black and orange, but he's pitched just well enough -- and the Giants have just enough need next year -- to point toward an 11th hour twist in the plot. Ryan Vogelsong's sour turn the past month has also helped shape the narrative. What first looked like a nice comeback for Vogey from the disabled list has become the same not-fooling-anyone thrashing about that we saw in April and May.

(Instead of exercising Vogelsong's $6.5 million club option, what if the Giants offered a lower base salary in 2014 with incentives, then a healthy 2015 option triggered by milestones? It could be a nice compromise between cutting ties and paying the full 6.5 M.)

Other stories as we start to look back:

As a card-carrying Beltista, Brandon Belt's step forward makes me very happy. He's claimed the first-base job, shut up already, and quite likely the #3 lineup spot next year, all of which make his steady incremental improvement over 2012 a better story than were it just

Year PA HR BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2011 209 9 .225 .306 .412 .718 103
2012 472 7 .275 .360 .421 .781 123
2013 548 16 .289 .360 .475 .836 141
3 Yrs 1229 32 .273 .351 .444 .795 128
162 Game Avg. 566 15 .273 .351 .444 .795 128
Generated 9/23/2013.

One that's gotten somewhat overlooked is Pablo Sandoval's regression. Perhaps it's been overlooked because it feels like a re-run. Nothing more to say. We've chewed that fat. Heh. No doubt a vocal minority will work up a lather on the talk radios this fall and winter about Sandoval's weight, and come mid-February in Scottsdale, the beat writers will bury their tongues in their cheeks and file a few "best shape of his life" stories. But the only way Sandoval can recapture the protagonist mantle is to have a great year in 2014. Sure, it'll be a contract drive, so extension-offerers and other buyers beware, but it'll make next year's Giants far more likely to rebound into relevance. Which, when you get down to it, is the only story we truly want to follow in 2014.

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