Scottsdale -- , Ariz. - One of the Giants' best moves of the offseason was to secure a nostalgia piece, an authentic time traveler by the name of Hunter Pence. He walks among us as a 21st century man, but everything about him suggests celluloid film, simpler pleasures and the distinctive ring of a dial-up phone.
Even his new contract - for one year - is a throwback. He's not complaining, nor will any fan who appreciates a true original. The Giants offer their fans a veritable circus of ballpark entertainment, and Pence is the zany sideshow, right at home amid the toy giraffes and panda hats, a curiously essential part of the scene.
As the White Sox-Giants exhibition unfolded on a glorious Monday afternoon, Pence was a study unto himself. I can't recall a ballplayer who approaches the game quite like him, but every bit of evidence is a link to the past.