Happy Festivus! As all “Seinfeld” fans know, Festivus is a holiday invented by Frank Costanza, George’s father, to escape the frenzy of the Christmas season. It includes an undecorated metal pole (“I find tinsel distracting”) and Feats of Strength (“Stop crying and fight your father!”). Most importantly, though, it includes the ritual Airing of Grievances.
I myself have celebrated Festivus religiously for many years. We watch “The Strike” (the episode from Season 9 of “Seinfeld” in which Festivus is introduced) every December 23 (which is when Festivus is, according to the episode). I also, for a number of years, would do an annual Airing of Grievances on my Facebook feed, a tradition that my Facebook friends looked forward to. But last year I decided that had run its course for me and that I was out of ideas.
This year, Out of Left Field day actually falls on Festivus, so I’m going to Air some Grievances about the Giants. It’s the least I can do to honor my traditions. No, seriously–it is the least I can do.
When I did my Facebook AoG, I would do them stream-of-consciousness, as they popped into my head. So my list here is similarly not in any particular order–except for the first and last ones.
- Santa isn’t real. I know this because I wrote to Santa on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and asked for some specific Giants-related items. Well, it’s December 23, and not only has Santa not come through*, but it’s been the worst of all possible Decembers for Giants fans, with the hated Dodgers spending over one billion dollars to land two Japanese mega-stars. You suck, Santa, and I’m going to devote the rest of my days to disabusing small children of the lies their parents have told them about you.
- Yamamoto signed with the Dodgers! I never for a minute thought he was signing with the Giants, any more than I thought Ohtani was. But I held out a smidgen of hope that the other Axis of Evil (the Yankees) would land him, that maybe he’d think it would be fun to rule over New York City. Nope.
- Yamamoto signed with the Dodgers–and the news broke while I was in the middle of a special holiday dinner with family. From now on, that place and that meal will always be associated with that memory.
- Why Yamamoto didn’t sign with the Giants: There were a couple of articles yesterday about how the Giants “could not have done a better job” in their pursuit of Yamamoto. He was so impressed with their pitch that he made a special trip to Oracle Park to meet with them, while other teams had to trek to his agents’ offices in Los Angeles. (There’s some foreshadowing, huh? It’s not even subtle!) He said he loved the park and thought San Francisco is a beautiful city (because it IS!). It wasn’t about money. He just wanted to be a Dodger. And that’s gross. None of this makes me feel any better as a Giants fan. A participation trophy (“Good try!”) is supposed to make us happy?
- The elephant in the room. Greek Giant wrote yesterday about Yamamoto’s signing and said “it is nothing to cry about.” Well, he’s not the boss of me, and it IS Festivus, so I’m going to “cry about” two specific things in this item and the next one. The first is the most important: Free agents (including Yamamoto, Ohtani, Judge, etc.) don’t sign with the Giants because they have failed to build an interesting, exciting contender that free agents with good choices want to join. Grant Brisbee had a good piece in the Athletic this week about the many missed opportunities over the past few years, and #1 on his list was doing nothing to improve the team after the successful, record-breaking 2021 season. That was the moment–the major league team was intriguing and exciting, the farm system appeared to be on the rise–that the Giants maybe could have wooed a couple of good free agents (including Kevin Gausman, I’ll remind you) to build around. Then a couple more the next year, and maybe now we’re a destination that premium free agents would like to come to.
- Wasted time. The other thing I’ll “cry about” is that Zaidi, for the second year in a row, wasted time and energy pursuing top-of-the-class free agents who were never, ever going to come here. Now, I know front offices can walk and chew gum at the same time, and that Zaidi or Pete Putila could be talking to Scott Boras about his stable of free agents at the same time they were pursuing Ohtani or Yamamoto, but it still doesn’t make much sense. After Yamamoto went elsewhere, Susan Slusser noted that the Giants may have blown an opportunity to sign Blake Snell because they were so focused on Yamamoto.
- Looking pathetic. Maybe the biggest problem with these futile, failed pursuits is that they have made the Giants as an organization look like desperate, needy bridesmaids. The Giants’ attempts to sign these guys over the past few years have been widely publicized across national baseball news, and their inability to land anyone has become its own story and narrative. Free agents know that. Their agents know that. And how does it make, for example, Blake Snell feel to know that the Giants may only be serious about him now because they didn’t get Yamamoto? Snell just won a Cy Young–for the second time–and may justifiably feel that he deserves to be considered just as special and high-priority as some Japanese kid who’s never thrown a pitch in the major leagues.
- Making lame excuses. I’m not going to dogpile on Buster Posey. I know he meant well in his comments to Andrew Baggarly about San Francisco and its perception problems, and I know that people who got angry with him took his thoughts about the City out of context. And Posey was actually echoing things Zaidi has said in the past and even Brian Sabean. But the big problem with those statements–and with Baggarly’s article–is that it tiptoed around the real issue, which is #5 above. Buster as an owner can’t say something like “Zaidi’s done such a crappy job that the Giants are not an attractive destination right now,” so he said other stuff. As I said in my column last week, San Francisco’s problems are not different from those of any other major city, and in terms of things like violent crime statistics, other cities (LA, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee, etc.) are much worse. Nor do I want to hear about California’s state income taxes, since the Dodgers (and 49ers, Warriors, Lakers, Clippers, Padres, and Angels) also play in California and seem to get free agents to sign with them.
- National baseball writers are a disgrace. They absolutely embarrassed themselves the week of the Winter Meetings, which was also the week Ohtani made his decision known. First, writers like Ken Rosenthal and Buster Olney were whining about how bored they were and how Ohtani owed them more of a show. Then, J.P. Morosi and J.P. Hoormstra started a ridiculous “Ohtani’s on a plane to Toronto” frenzy. Worst of all, Rosenthal has doubled down on how this excessive spending by the Dodgers is “good for the game.” Last year, when it was the Mets and the Padres spending like drunken sailors, there was a lot of tut-tutting and a “Steve Cohen tax,” but when the Dodgers commit over a billion dollars to just three players, all the writers do is gush and admire and defend–and sneer at the fans of the other 29 teams if they protest.
- Farhan Zaidi is still running the Giants. I am not weeping over the firing of Gabe Kapler, especially since he “failed up” and the Giants hired an excellent replacement in Bob Melvin. Honestly, even though I warmed up a bit to Kapler over the years, I’m relieved that he’s gone because I hated the platooning and excessive pinch-hitting and the openers. Absolutely hated it. I didn’t care for his awkward press conferences or his weird Instagram posts, but those were a minor issue for me. I just hated how he ran ballgames. All that said, Kapler took the fall for Zaidi’s failure, and so did some of Kapler’s coaches. I’m not sorry that Kapler’s gone, but I am just sick that Zaidi is not only still here but actually got a contract extension.
*OK, to be fair, we did get a centerfielder (Jung Hoo Lee from Korea), and this week, Zaidi signed a legitimate backup catcher (Tom Murphy) to a real deal (not “cash considerations”). These are not bad moves at all, but it’s like getting socks and underwear when you were hoping for a PlayStation or a bicycle under the tree.
P.S. Oh, and happy birthday to Mitch Haniger. Do I need to point out the irony of Haniger’s birthday being on Festivus?! I don’t think I do.
12 Days of Christmas
Today is Festivus, so it’s a day to complain. Indeed, I feel morally obligated to Air Grievances. It’s part of my holiday tradition, and you’d better not persecute me for my beliefs. And with Christmas Eve being tomorrow, I’m over hoping that Santa’s going to make Giants’ fans dreams come true. (Plus Santa isn’t real/sucks, see #1, above.)
However, there are 12 days of Christmas. Contrary to what some heathens think, the 12 days begin with Christmas and end on January 6, known as “Three Kings Day” or Epiphany in the church calendar. So there is still time for some Christmas wishes to come to fruition.
But for now, today is Festivus, and maybe there will be a “Festivus Miracle”! We’ll see what the day holds. We just saw a very cool double rainbow over the ocean, so maybe it’s a hopeful sign…
Happy Festivus and Mele Kalikimaka! Lefty out.