There are two ways to talk about Matt Cain: the macro and micro. Big picture and small picture. The micro is on a game-to-game basis. Boy, oh boy, Matt Cain sure is good. He looked awesome in that game, and the change-up was a-changin'. Breaking down specific at-bats. Reminding ourselves how lucky we are to have him. Noting that he got cained, or marveling that he somehow mooned the baseball gods and eked out a win.
The macro and big picture, though, isn't something you can do very often without spoiling it. That's where you note that Cain was the original guy, the transitional figure. It's easy to get myopic and forget that the Giants weren't always a pitching-rich team that struggled to hit. For a while they couldn't do either. And then there was Matt Cain, showing up in the majors when he was 20, and pitching beyond his years. You can bring up What Matt Cain Means every so often because he means ...
What was the recent standard for homegrown success before Cain showed up? Russ Ortiz? Shawn Estes (via Seattle)? It was probably John Burkett. There were a lot of hopes pinned on young pitchers for a couple of decades. All of those hopes were distilled into a few okay pitchers. A huge vineyard that ended up producing some swell table wine. But Cain showed up and was good right away. There wasn't even an adjustment period. He was just good. And he got better. And he was poked in the nose a lot, losing games he should have won. And he still got better.
This was a night where the big picture and the little picture merge together in the same storyline. It's about the game in isolation -- the best pitching performance I've ever watched. But it's also improved by the larger story, the idea of Matt Cain showing up in San Francisco a couple of years after his prom, morphing into one of the better pitchers in the game, winning a championship, and sticking around for a decade or two.
Which is all to say, Cain pitching a perfect game -- and doing it at home in front of a raucous crowd -- is just about the best story imaginable.
Can't imagine a single-game performance I'd root for harder. A Sandoval four-homer game, or a … hell, there isn't even a hypothetical situation I can come up with.
Matt Cain pitching a perfect game.
The first perfect game in Giants history. One-hundred-and-twenty-nine-plus seasons and 19,781 games without a perfect game. It had to be Matt Cain. He could have retired to fight crime yesterday, and he still would have been one of the most legendary pitchers in the history of an ancient franchise. Instead, he keeps adding to the damned legend. And it is so, so glorious.
I would have even taken one of those sloppy, eight-walk no-hitters for Cain. But he pitched the best game in franchise history instead. There are times where I feel blessed to experience something as a fan. Right now, I just feel happy for Matt Cain. He gets to enjoy this one -- an individual accomplishment that's all about him.