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Only 5 more shopping days before Brian Johnson Day

Sure, I could write about Barry coming back tonight, how I think he'll look, if they can possibly sweep the Pad People and get back in the race, what the lineup will look like, etc., etc.

But that's just what they're expecting me to do.

And I kinda did that yesterday, anyway. So if you'd like to read about Barry, comment about Barry, or give Felipe your two cents worth on lineup construction, check out yesterday's post or today's Gameday Thread. Right now, I'd rather think back to a happier September. A Septemeber when the Giants were in a real live pennant race.

The date was September 18, 1997, and we all know the set-up: The Giants went into a two-game set with the Dodgers trailing the Dreaded Blue Whores... I mean Horde, by two games, with just 11 to play. The Giants took game one, 2-1, behind an excellent seven inning, one run performance from Woody, and Barry Bonds' 2-run HR off Chan Ho Park (followed by his now famous 360 degree twirl out of the batter's box). The second game was of tremendous significance -- a loss would mean a split and the Giants would still trail by two with nine to play, and would not face LA again, a win and the two teams would be tied.

I was moving from Boulder, Colorado to Los Angeles, and had stopped over to stay a night with my mom in Sonona. As is my custom with most road trips out of the Bay Area in the summer, I planned my drive down to LA to coincide with the Giants game being on the radio. That way, Jon Miller could accompany me, helping me pass the time, just as Hank Greenwald did before him.

I left just as the game started, and before I could even get out of Sonoma, Otis Nixon homered off Giants starter Terry Mulholland in the first -- 1-0 Dodgers. But as I crossed the Richmond Bridge and continued east on the 580, Bonds and Snow both homered, and the Giants quickly built a 5-1 lead. As I met up with the 5 freeway and traveled south, however, the Dodgers came back, tying the game off of Julian Tavarez in the 7th inning. On the game went as I got further and further from my childhood home, and closer and closer to my future. (I could construct some kind of metaphor here about how the 1997 Giants were also trying to shed the memories of their past and move on into a new era, but I'm not that good of a writer.)

The reception on my car's stereo started to fade as the game headed into extra innings, which didn't seem like such a bad thing when Rod Beck started the 10th by allowing three straight hits to Piazza, Karros, and Mondesi to load the bases. I had to strain to hear Miller's call as Beck struck out Zeile. And when pinch-hitter Eddie Murray grounded into a double play to keep the game tied, there was much honking and slapping of the steering wheel.

As the 12th inning started, and Beck recorded his second straight perfect inning, my reception was completely gone. I was panicked, realizing I was still in the mountains, an hour from LA and any bar which might have the game on TV. Then it hit me -- if I'm this close to LA, I must be able to get the game on their radio station. I flipped around the dial like mad, finally finding the Dodger radio call, and the voice of Ross Porter, just as Mark Guthrie wound and threw that fateful pitch to Brian Johnson.

A homerun, and a dramatic win, followed by a divison crown, and the beginning of an era when the Giants finished above the Dodgers for seven straight years. That was introduction to living in LA, and I'll never forget it. Thanks, Brian.

COMMENT STARTER: So that's my question -- where were you on 9/18/97, when Brian Johnson etched his name into Giants folklore with one swing of his bat?