One of these days, baseball is going to get pissed off. Baseball is going to be mad it can't shake this erratic reputation. And it will realize the only way it can mess with us is to play it straight. Matt Cain will allow two runs and pitch seven innings in every start. Buster Posey will go 1-for-3 in every game, and he'll take a walk every other game. Brandon Crawford will get a hit every four at-bats. There will be no mystery.
Until then, man, I'm glad it's a big ol' attention whore. LOOK AT ME! I'M BAAAASEBALL! No, you're the dude outside the student center with an accordion and a cat on a leash. We get it. You're different. And that's not always a good thing.
It, uh … it was a good thing tonight.
The essence of that game, wafting in and out of your subconscious, tickling receptors and firing neurons, is what makes you so upset at a blown save in August, or a blown call in May. You can't articulate it. But if you could, it would sound something like, "But if we get to the playoffs, maybe Barry Zito could be good again and Pablo Sandoval could hit three home runs and maybe they could knock Justin Verlander around and YOU NEVER KNOW." The hostess at T.G.I. Friday's would probably ask you to leave. You'd be confused yourself. Surely, that's not what you meant to say, right?
You hope your team reaches the postseason because unexpected things can happen. Pablo Sandoval, bludgeoning an 0-2 Verlander fastball at his chin? Boy, howdy! That's unexpected.
Then a chopper hits third base and quirps out into left for a two-out double. Say, that's unexpected, too! Just like the play last week when Lance Lynn threw a ball that hit second base to get a rally going! This sure is odd, alright.
Then Sandoval takes another Verlander pitch deep. Uh, okay. This is getting a little out there.
Then Barry Zito is slapping an RBI single off Verlander, and the next thing you know, you're on the roof, wearing a bathrobe and swinging a rake to keep them away. You know. Them. Your spouse climbs up to get you down, but he or she could be one of them, so you have to swing the rake extra hard, extra fast. Take no chances; offer no mercy.
That's the slow descent into madness. You'll get there. This game was but a way station. But we can enjoy this a little while yet. Everything went right for the Giants in Game 1. The Tigers hit more than a few balls off Barry Zito. They were caught, for the most part. Sometimes they were caught with maximum effort; sometimes the fielder didn't have to move a whole lot.
The Giants hit a chopper in front of the plate, and it turned into a two-out double that led to a four-run rally. The Tigers hit a chopper in front of the plate, and it turned into a rally-quashing double play.
But if you think this is going to devolve into another post about the capriciousness of baseball: nope. Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs. He demolished them, for the most part. Take away everything else the Giants did tonight offensively, and that was still enough to carry the team. Bringing up the choppers and the hard-hit outs is just a way of pointing out that the insanity of that game isn't something you can isolate. It was everything, the total package.
It was the best pitcher alive going against the pitcher Giants fans have muttered as an epithet for six seasons. It was the guy who played his way out of the last World Series having an all-time, historic monster of a game. It was the best pitcher alive giving up an RBI single to a pitcher who holds a bat like it's covered in millipedes. It was Gregor Blanco diving and diving again, and it was Delmon Young looking like Vladimir Guerrero with a hernia. It was Tim Lincecum, perfect in relief.
Everything about that game was fantastically silly.
But that's what the game will be remembered for over the next century. That's the first three-homer game since Kevin Elster. That GIF would be just under a tenth of the home runs hit by the Giants at AT&T Park during the regular season this year.
The second swing is the one that would scare the giblets out of me if I were a Tigers' pitcher. Pablo going the other way with power. He used to do that all the time. Some of the time, at least. That's like Happy Gilmore saying "Uh oh, looks like somebody learned how to putt." I can reference the whole Adam Sandler oeuvre as it relates to this game, if you'd like. That wouldn't make sense, but neither did this game.
Barry Zito out-dueled Justin Verlander, and Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs.
In the end, it was just one game. I remember being bummed about Game 1 in both the NLDS and NLCS, and both of those turned out quite alright. The Giants still have to win three out of their next six games, which isn't exactly fait accompli. It's one game.
But it was a hell of a game.
There was about a month in 2007 when that image might have made sense to you. After that, it wouldn't have made a lick of sense. For years and years, that image wouldn't have made any sense. Yet here we are.