I was writing for a newspaper. Not full time, mind you, but I spent a summer covering the WNBA‘s Los Angeles Sparks for the Los Angeles Times.
It was fun, that way passing someone on a two-lane road is fun when you get to that critical point where you’re fully engaged but you’re no longer sure it was a smart or safe idea.
My first deadline was five minutes after the end of the game; my second was usually around 15-20 minutes after that, which, if all went well, was enough to ask a question or two, record a quote or two, transcribe a quote or two, and have a great game story.
The result was that I always crossed my fingers for the simple games, so that I could write my article as the game unfolded, adjust a few relevant details after the buzzer sounded, and move on smoothly with life. The shenanigans of the fourth quarter were my nemesis.
Andrew Baggarly, the incomparable Giants of San Francisco writer, said the only Giants players he would recruit to his fantasy squad are the closest – because even though he doesn’t support the Giants, he’s still looking for a smooth ninth inning, so the story of the game doesn’t does not need dramatic modifications. The cruel irony is that a sports journalist’s worst enemy by the deadline is an interesting game.
So where am I going with this, and what does this have to do with the Giants’ 9-4 win over the Texas Rangers?
I no longer write on time, a fact which is probably frustrating to readers of this site. I can take my time writing articles, and even fill them with 200-word personal essays instead of the lede, as you just saw.
I can write a story in the fifth round, delete it when the play is completely different in the seventh round, and settle for a third story when the finale is saved. When a game’s story arc zigzags more than the portion of Highway 1 I grew up on, I can zigzag with it with minimal stress. I can even take advantage of it!
For example: in the sixth inning, with the Giants leading 2-1, Alex Wood hit two different hitters and then gave up an equalizer double. He was replaced by Jarlin García, who produced a goal on goal and then allowed a two-point brace.
Three points on two hits. I wrote an article. It looked like this.
In the eighth inning, I had to suppress my masterpiece when Mike Tauchman, a resident of the lower east of the Mendoza Line, came in with the bases loaded and two outs with the Giants still down 4-2.
He did that.
I started a new article. It looked like this.
Then in the ninth inning, Brandon Crawford did that.
It was Crawford’s second blow – with two walks, a handful of stellar defensive plays, and a franchise record 1,326th shortstop – so Tauchman was no longer the main story, or the only. And it was a three-hit bomb, which would have given the Giants the edge even without Tauchman ordering the Big Salami at the Deli, so my silly 2 WAR statement was no longer true.
So I started over, and now we’re at that part of the story.
Crawford’s home run made it 9-4, and neither team scored again. But do you remember how I said he had another one?
And do you remember how I said he had really good defensive play? Here is one.
About a month ago, we were talking about how cool it was that Crawford was in the All-Star chat. Now he is firmly in the MVP discussion.
And a franchise manager.
Elsewhere in the game, Brandon Belt came back with three hits and one walk. But, as has been the rule for the Giants this year, a player cannot become healthy if there is not a sacrificial lamb, and Alex Dickerson was that sacrificial lamb, because he left the game with a back problem.
The Giants used six relievers, and none gave up a run (García’s double only allowed Wood’s scored runs). LaMonte Wade Jr. had a three-hit game and Buster Posey a two-hit game. The Padres lost.
The Rangers also lost. Because they played the Giants, who took us all on a mad rush of many stories before we went to bed happy for a win.