It wasn’t cold. It wasn’t hot. It was the kind of night at Oracle Park that Willie Dills had been hoping for after seven and a half years living in Austin, Texas. 67 degrees at first pitch with the Giants ace on the mound and a nearly packed house set the stage for a return to the press box for the TortureCast host who had finally come home. Willie had built this little podcast from the ground up and had to watch from afar while his cohorts, Chad King and Eric Nathanson, had nurtured it and kept it alive but now he was back.
After finding out that the old cheap parking tricks still worked, Willie hit the ground running and grabbed a press pass from a window by the O’Doul gate. The new COVID rules were foreign to him as he had just left the very “free” state of Texas. Luckily, Willie had his vaccine card and was allowed entry and after finding his way to the field and reuniting with Chad the night could commence.
The Giants were taking batting practice and the manager, Gabe Kapler, was lounging in the dugout, chatting with announcer Dave Flemming. WIllie located Chad and the two headed up the stairs to get some cheap grub. Food at the ballpark is not generally cheap but these two were privileged. Part of the elite. Press, baby.
A few flights of stairs and nods of acknowledgment and they were in. The press mess hall. 15 bucks gets you access to a buffet style treat of salad, wings and sandwiches. Kruk and Kuip were lounging just a few feet away while the TortureCast boys tried to play it cool. Willie walked by Mike Krukow and heard him refer to his partner, Duane Kuiper, as “Smoothie” and it just proved what everyone already knew. The best broadcasting team in baseball were also best friends in real life.
After filling their plates the boys headed upstairs to the press box for their next tough decision. Most of the people there were regulars with spots picked out and familiar people all around. As independent podcasters the boys still had a bit of trepidation and looked for a spot in the corner. Finding a great spot up front the laptops came out and the scorecards and info sheets adorned their new home that the boys would inhabit for the next 2-4 hours. Suddenly it became all about the baseball that was about to happen and the insecurities of feeling like frauds slipped away. The TortureCast boys may not know all the other journalists but they did know baseball and they belonged in the box.
The Giants had been on a bit of skid. 12-12 in the month of June, 5 games back, but still in the hunt, the team needed a rebound series and playing the lowly Tigers was a great opportunity. The Giants had their best starter on the mound, Carlos Rodon, so the feeling in the ballpark was that a win was highly likely. The near sold out crowd had a buzz going. Once Willie sat down, opened his laptop and started setting up his scorecard he took a moment to look around and take it all in. That’s when he felt it. The Giants were going to win this game and welcome Willie back to the bay the right way.
Rodon opened the game with 2 quick outs before the legend himself, Miguel Cabrera, grounded a ball off of Rodons foot. The ball went 20 feet into the air but Thairo Estrada still almost threw him out at first as Cabrera, at age 39, is not as fast as he once was. Rodon fanned Riley Greene to get out of the inning unscathed and the game was on.
In the bottom of the first the Giants scored two as Flores reached on a walk and Joc Pederson, having a career year, grounded a ball directly over third base for a double. Darin Ruf hit a sharp grounder that prevented the runners from advancing but in the clutch, Evan Longoria blooped a ball off the end of his bat into the outfield scoring two. The Giants so far in 2022 had been struggling with runners in scoring position so this was a fantastic sign that things may be looking up.
The next action took place in the 5th as the Giants launched a two out rally. Ruf sent the Tigers starter to the bench by coaxing a walk and then Longoria smashed a swinging bunt halfway to third and reached safely. With two on and two out a wild pitch set up Mike Yastrzemski, the definite player of the game, who launched a soft shot over second base, scoring two.
At this point the Giants had to be feeling good with their ace on the mound and a 4-nil lead but the Tigers did not go away quietly. Over the next 3 innings the Tigers chipped away at the lead bringing it to 4-3 with two down in the 8th after Dominic Leone walked 3 and gave up a seeing eye single. Gabe Kapler brought his closer, Camilo Doval, into the game to attempt the always dicey four out save.
Doval struck out Jonathan Schoop to end the 8th and then came out to begin the 9th with all the confidence and swagger the Giants next anointed closer should have. He struck out Eric Haase, walked Robbie Grossman on four pitches just to assert his dominance, and then proceeded to induce the game ending double play from Javy Baez to close the game out.
After the game, Willie was privileged to join the other journalists in Gabe Kapler’s office and bear witness to the glory that is the “post game interview”. While he didn’t ask any questions of his own he did take note of the exotic array of liquor bottles, bass guitars and flags in the hallowed grounds of Kapler’s abode. Be sure my friends, while no questions were asked on this day, ridiculous questions will be asked soon by the boys from TortureCast.
Coming up is one more game against the Detroit Tigers to finish out the month of June before the White Sox come to town to begin July. With the Giants back 5 games to the hated Dodgers this begins a very important couple of weeks before the all-star break. This years Giants are still contenders but the holes are making themselves known as we approach the halfway point.
Willie is now here for all of it and will be bringing you all of the action on TortureCast.com and through the podcast, available anywhere you get your podcasts.
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