Judging from the city's response after the Giants' 2010 World Series victory, each and every one of us is a devout fan whose knowledge of the team's players, stats and standing borders on the encyclopedic. But we understand that life can get busy, and what with away games, injuries, and general ups and downs (plus adopting a new kitten and sampling all the ice cream flavors in town), it can be hard to keep track of your favorite local team.
With the Giants' epic series against the hated Los Angeles Dodgers underway, there's no better time to brush up. They've got one win under their belt, but if the Giants sweep the Dodgers, they'll be tied with LA for first place in their division and, well, that much closer to winning it all. So fear not: whether you're a fan who's a little out of the loop or just jumping on the mid-season bandwagon, here are the talking points to get you back in the game.
1. The Melkman Cometh. One of the biggest stories this year has been left-fielder Melky Cabrera, who's been spearheading the Giants offense and is a likely contender to start in the All-Star game July 10th. He's leading the league in hits and has garnered a loyal following of "Melk Men," fans who dress up as old-school milk men (complete with orange bowties). Just like a milk man, Cabrera delivers.
2. Cain's Game. If you've been hiding under a rock, you may have wondered what those distant cheers were all about. Right-handed pitcher Matt Cain has been hard at work winning our hearts for the past few years, but this was the cherry on top: On June 13, Cain threw a perfect game, becoming the first Giant and just 22nd pitcher ever to do so. We're renewing our vows: we <3 Matty even more than ever.
3. Timmy's Story. Speaking of beloved pitchers, what's going on with Tim Lincecum this year? The answer is, not much. Well, not much that's good anyway. The 2-time Cy Young award winner has been SF's unstoppable ace in past years, but Tim's been struggling hard this year. Don't bring this up in the bar unless you want to see a lot of averted eyes and shaking heads. But we know Lincecum's got the goods, and we have faith he'll shake the losing streak as soon as he's able. Right, Tim?
4. The SF Zoo. You know about Kung Fu Panda, aka third baseman Pablo Sandoval, but the Giants have added a few more animals to their roster. Outfielder Gregor Blanco has been nicknamed "the White Shark", and first baseman Brandon Belt has humorously been dubbed "Baby Giraffe" for his long neck and general awkwardness (in a good way, BB!).
5. Buster's Back. In one of the biggest bummers of last year, catcher Buster Posey was injured during a collision at home plate and had to sit the rest of the season out. After undergoing surgery and rehab, no one was sure how he'd recover. But the old Buster is definitely back, and he's playing so well he's on course to be starting catcher for the All-Star game. Bravo Buster!
6. Where's the Beard? We learned to fear The Beard (and then get mildly exasperated about The Beard). But Giants' high-profile closer Brian Wilson is nowhere to be seen this season. He underwent Tommy John surgery and is on the DL for the 2012 season, and, well, we miss him. Okay Brian, we really do want you back, beard, crazy eyes, and all.