*If you love/hate the content of Out of Left Field this week, you can thank/blame MrLefty. In fact, he had so many ideas for this column that I suggested maybe he’d like to write it himself. But he says he only traffics in concepts, and he’ll leave the word-smithing to me. 🙂

 

by DrLefty

Long before I was DrLefty, I was JuniorHigherLefty, and I started listening to the San Francisco pop music station KFRC (610 AM). One of the first songs I remember hearing on the radio was “Coconut” by Harry Nilsson, and I thought, “What a weird dude/song.” I’d been too young to be allowed to see the movie Midnight Cowboy, so I didn’t know that his cover of “Everybody’s Talkin'” for that film had been a huge hit and won a Grammy Award. And I didn’t own the 1971 album Nilsson Schmilsson, so I hadn’t yet come across Nilsson’s other Grammy winner, “Without You.” (If you want to make your ears bleed, dial up the original version of that song by Badfinger. MrLefty inflicted this on me last night during dinner. “Make it stop,” I said.”) I also didn’t know that Nilsson wrote “One” (is the loneliest number), which Three Dog Night turned into a top-ten hit in 1969.

Anyway, as a 12-year-old, I thought “Coconut” was a strange and kind of stupid song, and that was before I understood that it was played with just one chord, C7. But it actually was a big hit that rose to #8 on Billboard in 1972. And upon reflection, I think it’s a brilliant metaphor for the state of the San Francisco Giants right now.

For you youngsters (i.e., Johnny Black), “Coconut” is about a woman whose brother (or “brudder”; the song is calypso-themed) bought a coconut, and she added a lime. She made a drink as follows: “She put de lime in de coconut, she drank ’em bot’ up.” This combo sounds disgusting, and the next line is unsurprising:

She put de lime in de coconut, she called de doctor, woke ‘im up
And said, “Doctor, ain’t there nothin’ I can take?”I said, “Doctor, to relieve this bellyache?”
So here we have the metaphor: the Giants right now are an unappetizing combination of ingredients that don’t go well together and make their fans feel sick. The “lime” is the pitching staff, which consists of nearly all starting pitchers but somehow only two of them, Logan Webb and Alex Cobb, are actually in the rotation right now (I’m not counting Anthony DeSclafani, who’s on the injured list.) I’m not kidding. The Giants have 13 pitchers on their active roster, and nearly all of them have either started at least one game for the Giants or have been used like starters (Jakob Junis and Tristan Beck). The notable exceptions are Camilo Doval and the Rogers brothers, but pretty much everyone else has been/could be in the rotation–if the Giants had one.
Meanwhile, the “coconut” is an offense full of veterans who are not hitting and rookies who are not hitting. Nobody is hitting. Not Michael Conforto, not Casey Schmitt, not Joc PedersonMike Yastrzemski, J.D. Davis…not even Patrick Bailey. They’ve all shut down. OK, maybe we’ll make an exception to this generalization for Blake Sabol, who hit three homers in two games…and the Giants still lost both of them. Wilmer Flores is 7 for 16 in July, Luis Matos is 5 for 15, and Brandon Crawford‘s homer last night nudged him up a bit in OPS. But every other hitter on the team has an OPS of under .600 for the five games so far in July.
They say that bad teams find ways to lose games. Two of the losses this week have come at the hands of their most reliable relievers (Doval on Monday and both Rogerses last night) having ill-timed terrible outings. How awkward was it when Tyler came in with Taylor’s runners on in a tie game and immediately served up a three-run homer that made Taylor the losing pitcher? Yeeeeeesh. It makes me feel queasy just thinking about it, kind of like if you put de lime in de coconut and drank ’em bot’ up.
So what’s to be done about all this? Doctor, ain’t there nothin’ [we] can take to relieve this bellyache? Here’s where the song gets really weird and silly. The doctor tells the uncomfortable woman to do exactly the same thing that made her sick:
You put de lime in de coconut, you drink ’em bot’ togedderPut de lime in de coconut, then you feel betterPut de lime in de coconut, drink ’em bot’ upPut de lime in de coconut and call me in the morning
There are deep interpretations of every song out there these days. The most straightforward explanation for this rather odd “prescription” is that the doctor was annoyed that she woke him up and just told her whatever to get her off the phone so he could go back to sleep (“you’re such a silly woman,” he says). However, another theory that’s been put forward is that “put de lime in de coconut” is recommending some “hair of the dog” to combat a hangover. Was there some rum in that concoction? Maybe. It’s even been suggested that “put de lime in de coconut” meant “put marijuana into the bong,” but next you’ll be telling me that “Puff the Magic Dragon” isn’t about a boy and his imaginary playmate and that Lucy isn’t actually in the sky with diamonds.
Back from my digression to the Giants: I can’t think of a way “to relieve this bellyache” right now. Do we really think another promotion of David Villar or Joey Bart or Heliot Ramos (when he’s eligible–he went on the 60-day IL on May 19) is going to solve the team’s offensive woes? Kyle Harrison just went on the IL with a hamstring strain and will miss the Futures Game, so even if he were ready to debut, which he didn’t really seem to be, that is no longer imminent. And even when the Giants were playing well a couple of weeks ago, the options for improving at the trade deadline seemed unappealing and/or unlikely.
I just don’t see a quick solution to what ails the Giants. They just have to keep drinking the same combination that’s made them sick and hope it will instead make them feel better. We’ll see what a few days of rest and a mental reset can accomplish–for the Giants, I mean. I think the woman in the “Coconut” song is a lost cause.

 

The 2023 First-Year Player Draft

OK, this will have my attention. The draft will start on Sunday and continue through Tuesday. The Giants have three picks the first day because they have a compensation pick for losing Carlos Rodón as a free agent. They’ll pick at spots 16, 52, and 69. Melissa Lockard had an excellent analysis of what the draft might hold for the Giants: She pointed out that they have gone pitcher-heavy in the last two drafts, and, with the graduations of Schmitt, Bailey, and Matos, and other top position player prospects in AA or higher, the system has gotten pitcher-heavy, especially at the lower levels. The draft is supposedly deep with college position players, and it seems like a safe bet to assume that the Giants might pick one or more of those in the early rounds. We’ll see. Interestingly, despite the heavy focus on pitchers in 2021 and 2022, two of their best recent draftees are the first position players they took in those years (Vaun Brown in the 10th round in 2021; Wade Meckler in the 8th round in 2022).

Oh, and speaking of Rodón, he finally made his first start for the Yankees last night and pitched pretty well (but was the losing pitcher when his offense got shut out–sounds kinda familiar, doesn’t it, Carlos?). But the real news is how weird and unattractive he looked–pudgy with a 70s porn star mustache and his jersey open with no undershirt to expose his manly chest hair.  Ewwwwww.

 

The All-Star Game

Meh. Eight Braves, six Rangers, four Dodgers (Kershaw is out) and one Giant, whom I’m sure we’re all hoping doesn’t pitch in the game. We’ll watch it because we always do, but basically the ASG just means a few sad days of missing meaningful baseball. On the other hand, the Giants really, really seem to need the break, so I guess we shouldn’t begrudge it to them.

But “I can’t live/if living is without you,” Giants.  Lefty out.

 

[I mean, seriously–this is an AMAZING vocal, maybe one of the best pop vocals of all time.

Also: Harry Nilsson was really an interesting dude. Among the various factoids called to my attention by MrLefty: Nilsson didn’t tour or do concerts. (This was back in the day when your songs would get on the radio and people would go to record stores and buy albums. Poor Taylor Swift has to do a cajillion stadium shows just to keep food on her table.) Nilsson was also close with the Beatles, especially John Lennon, who was a huge admirer of Nilsson’s talent. Finally, two musical artists, Cass Elliott of the Mamas and the Papas and Keith Moon of The Who, both died (not at the same time) in the guest room of Nilsson’s London flat–both at age 32. Nilsson was so traumatized by these deaths that he sold the flat to Pete Townshend, Moon’s bandmate.]