The Team Built to Win Now (Or So They Say)

Team brass is selling this season's squad as one constructed for short term, yet substantial, success. But are they fooling the real fan-base?

As I ponder the fate of the 2006 San Francisco Giants, I remember a day just a month ago commuting home and listening to the Giants’ flagship station, KNBR 680.  Host Ralph Barbieri and Giants General Manager Brian Sabean were discussing how the team we’ll be watching in San Diego on April 3rd is a team built to “win now.” 

I say those words like Al Pacino when he was appalled at what the school’s dean thought it meant to be a “Baird man.”

Win now.  What the hell is that supposed to mean?  Win what and with what? 

If it’s an NL Western Division, sure.  Great, fine.  Hoist another one of those flags and watch the Johnny-come-lately geek fans who only come to the park because their respective department at Google or Yahoo has tickets, and let them cheer while they play bowling on their cell phones and update their MySpace profiles.  But I’m about as excited for another division crown as the general public is for “Basic Instinct 2.”

Who can proclaim themselves happy and satiated with the transparent “win now” talk?  Aside from the Starbucks crowd, not too many.  Real fans, the ones who couldn’t eat for a week and considered strychnine a viable beverage after Game 6 in the ’02 Series, are not fooled. 

(For my new readers, I harp on Game 6 like Bill Maher does with W’s 7 minutes of inaction after being informed the country was under attack.  I’ll never drop the fact that Dusty flipped Ortiz the game ball.  I’ll never let Felix Rodriguez’s pitch selection and location to Scott Spiezio fade away.  Crappity crap crap.)

The fans who are still haunted by Candy Maldonado in their nightmares want the win that Steinbrenner is demanding in the Bronx.  The Boss thinks his team is built to win now and will hang his overpaid scapegoats (like Alex Rodriguez and probably all-too-soon Johnny Damon) by a freaking yard-arm if they finish any lower.  But no one can dispute the Yankees are built with a desperate, if not furious, architecture.

The soldiers who will attempt to win now for the Giants are above average players who the front office hopes will gel like the ’03 Marlins, ’04 Red Sox and ’05 White Sox.  Of course, those players only look better than they are when you-know-who is playing and having a lone superstar was not a part of the formula for the last three World Series champs.

It’s no secret the team’s fate rests on the creaky knee of left fielder and public enemy #1, Barry Bonds, and Barry’s not exactly nor merely a lone superstar.   If his gimpy knee or Bud Selig’s even gimpier investigation into steroid usage sidelines the slugger, the team’s done for and, suddenly, it’s win never and they suck the same wind as the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs.

But less than a year removed from their first sub-.500 team in a decade, words like “win now” are getting thrown around by team officials with as much care as Paris Hilton shows to her fiancées, pets, handbags and common sense.  (The fact that I’m talking about her, though, is just another small victory for Paris.  Dang!)

This team needs to remember that they need to win period and then they can start giving timelines on the next big win.  Until then, I’ll continue to stand in the special spot in the living room in the ninth inning in full hopes of having now come sooner than later.

Keith Larson writes for because he's lived and died with the Giants since 1972. He welcomes all words of praise and insult at, but mentioning anything having to do with Game 6 is to be done with extreme caution.

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