Happily, we’ve come to the end of the Giants’ Annual Post-All-Star-Game Nightmare Road Trip. They probably were lucky to go 3-7, because for the most part, they stank. There was even a sort of “Uh-oh” feeling in the first radio and TV broadcasts after the break, as if the announcers were trying not to say, “Here it comes. Again.”
You might be surprised that in the Giants’ 52-year history in San Francisco, they’ve only started the second half of the season on the road 25 times. I certainly was surprised—it seemed to me as if they always started on the road, then got killed, then went into the tank forever. Perhaps that’s because between 1984 and 2001, the Giants started on the road 12 of 18 times, including four in a row at one point, and a 9-of-12 stretch.
During those 18 years, we saw a winning Giants’ Annual Post-All-Star-Game Nightmare Road Trip (GAPASGNRT—or “gap ass g’nert,” for ease of pronunciation) twice, along with two splits, so I think it’s fair to refer to their fairly miserable performance in their first road trip after the All-Star game as a tradition. In their entire history, the Giants are 248-305 in that first road trip, a .448 winning percentage. (A few of those years had two post-All-Star road trips, back when there were All-Star games each year.) It’s only slightly worse when they begin the second half on the road, at least in terms of winning percentage, but another surprise, at least to me, was that in 27 opportunities, the Giants had seven winning road trips and five splits.
I can’t say for sure, but I would imagine that many of us dread that GAPASGNRT, even if it doesn’t begin until August. You might ask, in an astounded-sounding voice, “But Gregg! What if they were playing better teams after the break than usual?” And on some occasions, that had to be true. (Probably. I’m not looking it up.) This year, though, included the Braves—hardly a bad team; the Rockies—sadly becoming an unjustifiably good team upon changing managers; and the Pirates—annually bad since Barry Bonds left them. In 2006, the Giants started off against the terrible Pirates and the terrible Nationals—and went 0-6. They went 1-8 in 1998, and followed that up with a 1-5. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter who the opposition is: they’re generally gonna gag.
What makes this all fall down is the fact that they’ve thrown in enough successful GAPASGNRTs to keep one from thinking there’s really a correlation. Also, I haven’t bothered to do this kind of research on other teams—owing to that tragic dearth of relevance that afflicts all Major League Baseball teams that are not the Giants. But perhaps every team has a poor first-post-break-road-trip record. Feel free to research it yourself—I mean, it took me 20 or 30 minutes just to get through the San Francisco Giants—teams with older roots would take longer.
Here’s what I think of just before the GAPASGNRT every year: Barry Bonds, pinch-hitting for the Pirates, hitting a game-winning grand slam against lefty Joe Price in 1988. He swings, he hits the ball, he immediately raises both hands in the air, signaling a successful field goal… horrible. And even though the Giants’ actual overall results in that first trip aren’t nearly as bad as that one game, it always feels as though they’re going to be.