All in all, the Giants entering the All-Star break a game above .500 and only 3.5 games back isn't a bad place to be.

We all know that teams in far worse positions at this point have come roaring back. It's not unimaginable that the Giants could do the same. It'll take luck in the form of good health for Bonds, Durham and Alou; maturation among young pitchers Cain, Lowry and the bullpen kiddies; and crafty front-office work to secure another big bat without trading away the pitching future.

Whether a playoff-bound Giant team can go deep into the playoffs, well, all we ask is for a chance. With Jason Schmidt as the rotation anchor, all it takes is one or two more pitchers to get hot and the lineup to score four or five runs a game. Short series often fall to the hot, the streaky, the lucky.

Yesterday's first-half finale was a great example of baseball's vagaries. Aaron Sele continued to confound everyone, throwing 85-MPH fastballs on the blackest edges of the plate and swooping curveballs. By now we know it's no fluke -- the guy has resuscitated his career and tip o' the hat to him.

But the game really hinged on Moises Alou's two bases-loaded, two-out at-bats.

First against Sele he popped up a hanging curve, much like Russell Martin just missed Mando Benitez's hanger in the ninth inning Saturday. A fraction of an inch difference in either situation, and blammo.

Later in the game against Danys Baez, Mo squared up a fastball but hit it low and on the ground right to Furcal. A few feet in either direction, and we're talking two-run single.

On any other day, Mo-for-two with the bases loaded could mean four or five RBIs; yesterday it was six runners stranded. I'll take Mo up there every time.

Now the break is upon us, it's time to catch up on related reading. Here's a fun NY Times article by a friend and former colleague, Gary Rivlin, about the independent Golden Baseball League and its venture capital backers. My favorite line:

The next batter was one of the Golden League's bona fide stars, Desi Wilson, a 37-year-old whose claim to fame is the 41 games he played for the San Francisco Giants in 1996.

Wilson makes the league's cost-conscious commissioner wince as he fouls a series of $3 baseballs into the stands, never to be used again. Read it before it disappears behind the Times's pay-per-view wall.


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