For some reason, the San Francisco Giants usually seem to go into a decline immediately after the All-Star Game, often after having been playing well right before it. There's no rational explanation for this tendency. The sample isn't big enough for it to be statistically meaningful, I suspect. Yet I have come to dread the period all the same. Even so, the promise of something good happening before the trade deadline -- Roberto Hernandez --or perhaps even something so bad that it's good to talk about -- Joe Carter and José Mesa, anyone? -- makes this frustrating half-month more than simply a time to mourn. Despair looms, yet hope flashes brightly in reflections of what's going on just around the corner. I've complained regularly, over the years of keeping this blog, that people want to read my entries about sports allegorically are making a grave mistake, since they are almost always simple-mindedly literal. This entry, however, is an exception.