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Top 25 Stories of 2018

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Happy New Year, everyone. Hope you had a pleasant, safe and comfortable New Year’s Eve. Hope you’re enjoying yourself on this fine January 1. Odds suggest most of you are watching football which, hey, is your right, even if I don’t understand why you’d do such a thing. It takes all kinds.

If you’re not watching football, and if you’ve missed some of our countdown of the Top 25 Stories of 2018, here they all are:

25. Matt Harvey’s Weird Year
24. Some International Records Fall
23. Those We Lost
22. Robinson Cano Suspended for PEDs
21. Mound Visits Limited
20. The Baseballs Have Changed
19. Chief Wahoo’s Last Hurrah
18. Albert Pujols Notches His 3,000th Hit
17. Manny Machado Traded Before He Was Traded
16. There Were More Strikeouts Than Hits
15. More Position Players Pitched Than Ever Before
14. Roberto Osuna Shows How Situational Baseball Ethics Can Be
13. A Parade of Stars Retire
12. The Feds Launch an Investigation of International Scouting
11. Baseball Gets Into the Gambling Business
10. Young Stars Land in Hot Water Over Old Tweets
9. A Hall of Fame Class for the Ages
8. Christian Yelich Goes From Unhappy Marlin to MVP
7. Jacob deGrom Wins the Cy Young With Only Ten Wins
6. The A’s Improbable 97-win Year
5. Acuña and Soto Make a Splash in the NL East
4. Shohei Ohtani: Two-Way Threat
3. The Free Agent Freeze 
2. The Rays Give Baseball The Opener
1. Red Sox Win Their Fourth World Series in Fifteen Seasons

 

Hope 2019 treats you well!

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.