In the recent McCoven Adoption Draft I took the 1912 New York Giants, one of the greatest assemblages of talent (especially on the mound) in franchise history.
The Buffalo Bills of their day, they lost three straight Series from 1911-13. 2012 marks the centennial of their suffering the most painful Game Eight loss the World Series will ever see. The other three were rough, too (not that getting eliminated in a World Series is ever particularly easy):
- The 1903 Pirates, tasked with defending the honor of the Senior Circuit in the first-ever World Series, blew a 3-1 series lead with four straight not-close losses to the Boston Americans.
- 1921 saw the Yankees eliminated in their first-ever postseason appearance when the the Giants, up 1-0, gunned down the tying runner as he tried to (LOL!) go first to third for some reason on a 4-3 groundout.
- 1919 was, of course, pretty epically bad in other ways.
But this post is about the Giants, and only the Giants could find a way to lose a seven-game series in the 10th inning of Game Eight.
No, literally, only the Giants:
This was one of only four World Series to go to eight games, and the only best-of-seven Series to do so. While the 1912 Series was extended to eight games due to a tie game being called on account of darkness, the 1903, 1919 and 1921 World Series were all best-of-nine affairs that happened to run eight games.
Then as I was looking into it, I realized that this is also the big-round-number anniversaries (50th and 10th) of other iconic Giants' World Series losses (and the 90th of a win). And that got me thinking about Those Games. Y'know, Those Games. The ones that need no more reference than "Game Six" (see? you just winced). What are the definitive Games One through Eight in franchise history, the ones that generations of fans comparing war stories in Baseball Valhalla would recognize? It's not all misery, of course. The Giants are a proud franchise, and have given about as well as they've gotten over the years in October.
(All links open in new windows, by the way. Not that y'all will click on any, let alone all sixty-four.)
Game Six: "Game Six, 2002" has instant cachet around these parts; doubly so for Kings fans. But the Giants already had a number of horrifying Game Sixes under their franchise belt: a 13-2 elimination/stomping in 1911, blowing a 4-1 lead by allowing 5 runs in the 8th to be eliminated in 1923, facing elimination and a one-run deficit after eight only to allow seven runs in the 9th in 1936, needing three to tie and avoid elimination but only getting two and a shoestring catch in 1951, and Candy Maldonado in 1987. Game Six of the 2010 NLCS provided a measure of balance, of course. It was a pretty sweet game to attend, I'll tell you what.
Game Five: For me, it's Edgar giving Dubya the sadz on 11-01-10. But let's not forget Kenny Lofton ending the shit he started in the 2002 NLCS. I believe Tony LaRussa recently named that series one of (the?) most crushing losses he experienced. The three-run rally in the home half of the 8th that capped the 4-0-1 (the second game was the last-ever WS tie) sweep of the 1922 Yankees works here as well, as does the Braves' abandonment of twelve men on base in a 3-1 season-ending loss in the 2002 NLDS. Game Fives have been generally kind to the Giants, other than 1917; evenly matched with the White Sox that year, they allowed three runs in each of the 7th and 8th innings to blow a 5-2 lead. But the fix may have been in, so who knows?
Game Four: My (again) personal answer is either JT Snow lumbering around third in 2003 or Bobby J. Jones standing on his head (in the parlance of our times#) in 2000. Probably the latter. Actually, now that I think about it, it's definitely the latter. That was by far the most painful game I've ever experienced. I was so emotionally exhausted, I wound up sleeping for fifteen uninterrupted hours and missing class the next afternoon. Bobby J. Jones gave my soul the scar tissue necessary to survive Game Six two years later. On positive notes, Games Three, Four, and Five of the 1989 NLCS will probably cause a Cubs fan's gorge to rise. If this is a World Series-only list, the tying run died on third in the 8th of the 1913 loss to the Athletics, while Games Four and Five in 1933 against the Senators were solid revenge for 1924's debacle.
Game Three: It's 1989, right? Gotta be. That's (well, the pregame portion+) the moment that went down in history, after all. The Shot Heard 'Round The World is also an appropriate answer here, of course, although a) like 1962, that was technically a regular-season series and b) I doubt many people remember it as being a greater-than-one-game playoff. Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry taking consecutive losses in Games Three and Four of the 1971 NLCS in Pittsburgh could not have been fun. Game Three is when we shook our heads at the irony of Jose Cruz, Jr's 2003 Gold Glove. On the plus side, Brooks Conrad and Eric Hinske go here, too.
Game Two: For fans alive today, it's Dante Powell's throw hitting the mound in 1997. Home Run Baker earning his nickname off Rube Marquard in Game Two and Christy Mathewson in (the 11th inning of) Game Three of the 1911 Series would also be apt.
That pretty much covers every postseason appearance the Giants have made.
The noncompetitive rest:
1905- Having refused to play the "inferior" AL-champion Athletics in 1904, the Giants backed up their talk in the second-ever World Series. All five games were complete-game shutouts, and the Giants won four of them. Christy Mathewson won three(!) of those. My favorite stat:
The New York Giants yielded no earned runs in this Series, and set a mathematically unbreakable record for lowest team ERA of 0.00.
1937- Badly outgunned by the Gehrig/DiMaggio Yankees, the Ott/Hubbell Giants lost the first three games 8-1, 8-1, and 5-1, and it was all over but the shouting. There was this, though, I guess. Whatever. Fuckin' Yankees.
The 1937 Series was the first in which a team (in this case, the Yankees) did not commit a single error. Game 4 featured the final World Series innings ever pitched by Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell who, during the ninth inning, threw a pitch that Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig hit for his final World Series home run.
So there it is. Game One through Game Eight! Soul-crushing series-swinging moments all. You win some, you lose some. Not too many franchises can match the Orange and Black scar-for-scar. Wear 'em with pride; they last just as long as flags, and give you a link (or sixty-four) to a vast line of True Giants Fans.
Share your memories of searing agony below!
+LOL @ James Earl Jones's narration of the already Conan the Barbarian-sounding opening crawl.
#'our times' being 'hockey season.' God, I'm ready for baseball to start.