Giants of '97 believe current club can rebound

Giants of '97 believe current club can rebound

SAN FRANCISCO -- Besides convening for a 20-year reunion Saturday, maybe the 1997 Giants should have conducted a seminar for this year's squad.

The '97 team remains one of the most stirring clubs in the franchise's San Francisco history, if not all time. Improving from 68-94 in 1996 to 90-72, they became the fourth Major League team to finish first after ending the previous season in last place.

The current Giants entered Saturday on pace to record a 61-101 record, which would mark only the second triple-digit-loss season in franchise annals. They certainly could learn a thing or two from the veterans of '97.

A handful of the attendees at the reunion maintained ties with the Giants or other organizations that would have made their comments about this year's team inappropriate. Examples included Brian Johnson, one of the club's top scouts, and Jose Vizcaino, who works for the Dodgers.

But some members of the '97 club, who were honored in a pregame ceremony, could speak freely. J.T. Snow, the '97 first baseman, said this year's Giants simply are learning about the harsh realities of big league life.

"This year's team has a bunch of guys that won three World Series. They're just having a bad year. That happens," Snow said. "But I'm also saying that this current team has a bunch of guys who had success early; now they're in the middle of their careers. They're starting to find out it's a job. It's hard, and it's a grind."

Left-hander Jim Poole expressed confidence in the 2017 Giants' ability to make 2018 a big year.

"They have a lot of really good athletes running around out there," he said.

That sort of team can jell, Poole added, if a key offensive figure is added -- such as the '96 team did by adding second baseman Jeff Kent.

Poole warned the Giants will confront more than their share of skeptics next year.

"Don't listen to them," he advised. "The only people who thought we'd be good were in our clubhouse."

Noting that several Giants are enduring subpar seasons, Poole said next year's team can improve almost automatically by approaching expectations more closely.

"The game is designed for it to happen," he said.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.