For every Phil Mickelson Masters moment that fuels our optimism and confirms that the sporting fates have a firm sense of morality, there are at least as many examples of the contrary. Episodes where Lady Luck jilts the White Knight, and instead shacks up with the leather-clad Lothario that plays by nobody's rules.
Not even his own.
(Bonus points if you recognize that bit of hybrid pilferage).
Case in point of this latter blight would be the San Francisco Giants' three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers that just concluded on Sunday.
In truth, there isn't anything too inherently repugnant about this version of the Bums.
For all the publicity and ink wasted on Manny Ramirez, the club is defined by its younger sluggers and a couple sparkling arms on the mound.
Matt Kemp and his brimming box of tools lead the charge, but Andre Ethier isn't too far behind him. James Loney is another kid who's already made some good on his oodles of promise, and Russell Martin's tapered off in recent years, but he's still only 27.
The pitching cupboard is considerably more spartan, but both Jonathan Broxton and Clayton Kershaw have shown (dis)comforting signs of realizing the full extents of their considerable potentials. Chad Billingsley is also on the radar, but his warts are uglier at this point.
These are the primary Bums in blue, and they aren't exactly Antichrists.
Martin's a little yappy, but he's also a gnarly catcher, so I can forgive him his transgressions. Broxton's got that closer streak of flamboyance, but that's almost as much of a stopper's constitution as a hissing fastball.
Outside of Man-Ram, only Kemp can be singled out for particular scorn, and even the 25-year-old beast's unseemly arrogance can be forgiven.
For one thing, he seems to be growing out of it. For another, he's a 6'2", 225-pound freight train who can rake like a four-hitter, accelerate like he should be hitting leadoff, and patrol center field like a gloved gazelle.
In other words, the dude's got plenty of reason for a healthy ego so it's tough to be too critical of him when it seeps through to the public.
Notwithstanding this mild bunch of villains, the Baseball Gods still got it wrong when they handed two of the trio to los Doyers.
The most egregious offense was the Vicente Padilla heater to Aaron Rowand's face, but that one requires some discussion so let's deal with Manny first.
The Major League Baseball world remembers Ramirez' departure from Boston in Technicolor. That sordid ordeal included an infamous series against the Red Sox' archrivals, the New York Yankees, in which the mercurial left fielder couldn't/refused to play.
Well, the hated nemesis of the $20 million man's current employer just passed through Tinsel Town, and he made an impressive three plate appearance in 27 innings.
After LA jumped out to a fatal seven-run lead against Todd Wellemeyer in the opener, Man-Ram came up doubly lame with a calf strain.
The boo-boo would conveniently keep the slugger on the pine for Tim Lincecum's start on Saturday and Barry Zito's twirl on Sunday. The temptation to duck the Franchise needs no elucidation; a closer look reveals Ramirez is an average 9-for-39 against the soft-tossing lefty.
Admittedly, more than half those hits have gone for at least two bags, and he's taken 11 free passes against only two whiffs. Nevertheless, Zito isn't statistically one of Manny's favorite victims.
Surely not one he'd mind missing if it meant an afternoon watching the Freak rather than stepping into his batter's box.
Obviously, the above is far from conclusive evidence that Manny was being Manny over the weekend.
However, the shadow over the dreadlock'd one would've at least precluded one of those three trips to the dish resulting in a game-winning, pinch-hit, two-run blast if justice held sway over the Baseball Gods rather than a more fickle principle.
In that world, Padilla's sin would've delivered all three contests to los Gigantes with a freakin' bow.
Like most rational witnesses, I initially gave the Dodgers' starter the benefit of doubt. Regardless of the right-hander's headhunting reputation—a distinction that I've yet seen denied by anyone connected to the Show—the situation simply didn't appear to indicate malicious intent.
Although Kemp had been buzzed by Wellemeyer in the top half of the frame, San Francisco had scored its first two runs of the game to make the score 7-2 as Rowand dug into his at-bat.
Furthermore, the HBP loaded the bases with one out, and it was only the fifth inning.
Had Edgar Renteria gotten a base hit instead of lining into a twin-killing, Vicente's looking at a 7-4 struggle with more than half the Giants' 27 outs yet to be recorded.
Finally, why go after Aaron Rowand?
Typically, affectionate messages such as these are sent on equivalent wavelengths. Despite the positional identity shared by the center fielders, the only player in Orange and Black with the profile to match Kemp's is Pablo Sandoval.
Maybe...MAYBE Bengie Molina. Certainly not Rowand, who is a fantastic ballplayer and a seemingly stellar individual, but he's not the heart of the offense.
So, despite some sincere flags to the contrary, I gave the Bum a pass.
Two days later, I think I might've been wrong.
Let me ask you this—if you were involved in an out-for-blood, tension filled rivalry game and accidentally doused a guy in the face with baseball going 90+ MPH, wouldn't you have apologized by now?
If you had a reputation for going after the head, and found out you broke someone's mug in three places ON ACCIDENT, don't you think you'd probably have squeezed in a mea culpa within 24 hours?
Again, it's not conclusive on the matter.
Yet the suspicion is more than reasonable. It should've been worth more than one measly win in three for San Francisco.
On the other hand, there are 150 games left.
And, now, the Baseball Gods owe the Giants one.