Baseball may or may not be America’s Pastime, as it was known for a couple of generations. But spending an evening at San Jose’s circa-1942 Municipal Stadium watching the San Jose Giants is still a pretty good way to pass the time.
Compared to every other team in the minor leagues—from Single-, to Double-, to Triple-A—no club had a better record through the first half of the season than the Giants’ 50-19. Jumping out to a 12-and-a-half-game lead to win the first-half crown, which guaranteed the Giants an eighth-straight spot in the postseason, San Jose was the most represented club at June’s All-Star festivities in Modesto.
But the festivities took a toll. The Giants went on to lose six in a row to start the second half of the season. (By the way, what kind of idiot thinks playing an extra game in 100-plus degree heat in Modesto should be a reward?) Since that time, San Jose was able to get Modesto out of its system to win six straight entering a four-game series in Visalia that started Tuesday.
The Giants will return home to host San Bernardino’s Inland Empire 66ers on Saturday (6pm), Sunday (5pm) and Monday (7pm).
Minor-league rosters tend to have the day-to-day consistency of a former child actor’s jobs, but the Giants weathered the vacillating nature of the beast—call-ups, injuries, etc.—with a rock-steady pitching rotation and chorus line of capable bats. Centerfielder Gary Brown and pitchers Chris Heston, Kelvin Marte, Craig Westcott and Zack Wheeler have proven their stripes as All-Stars, and catcher Alex Burg has been phenomenal at the plate to lead the team with a .374 batting average.
Newcomers James Simmons, an outfielder who came down from Triple-A Fresno, and shortstop Ehire Adrianza, have also performed admirably in limited action. Adrianza, 21, came over from the South Athletic League, which generally nurtures younger players. So far he’s shown a smooth enough swing to record a hit in every three at-bats.
Despite trailing the Stockton Ports by six games in the second half of the schedule, the Giants could be back on top if they keep on sweeping series like their recent four-game pummeling of the Bakersfield Blaze. (As if going back to Bakersfield wasn’t bad enough.)
As always, tickets to Saturday’s and Sunday’s games can be had for the old-fashioned price of $10, but for more stingy fans, passes to Monday’s contest are being handed out for free at local State Farm branches. It might be worth taking the time to look into some life insurance policies as well, because Turkey Mike’s barbecued ribs and chicken—a staple at Muni—is likely to inspire some overeating.