There are only a handful of games that make you feel like that in any given season. Heck, any given lifetime. Wherever you were watching the game, you stuck around after the final out. If you were at a bar, you stayed back to talk about the game. People loitered around the gameday thread here long past last call. Most of those who attended in person didn't just make a mad dash to the exits at Mays Field upon the last pitch; they stuck around and buzzed. Going to bed without getting the admiration and exhilaration off your chest would have been dangerous. One minute you're in bed, the next you're calling phone sex numbers to talk about the game because no one else is up that late.
"What am I wearing? Sixteen freaking strikeouts, that's what I'm wearing! He reached back, and...wait, you want to do what with the strikeouts now? I'm not sure if you understand the concept of a strikeout, but I'll admit I'm intrigued...."
Jason Schmidt wasn't the Schmidt of old. It wouldn't give him enough credit to merely compare him to the Cy Young contender of the past. Schmidt was about the best pitcher in the history of the game for nine innings. He overpowered people all night, and when some breaks went against him, he struck out the side when just one medium-deep fly ball would have blown the lead. The Marlins weren't just sending up Ruben Rivera, J.R. Phillips, and Rob Stratton for the ninth, either. Miguel Cabrera, Josh Willingham, and Jeremy Hermida are as formidable as any three hitters the Giants could throw at a team with runners on second and third with no outs. That just added to the moment.
Schmidt became a different pitcher right around the time the Giants traded for him, and was one of the best in the game for a couple of seasons. When he stalled last season, it was easy to wonder if the mind had been playing tricks that whole time. With each high-stress outing, with 89 mph fastballs missing in every possible direction, and with offspeed pitches that were inconsistent at best, it wasn't crazy to privately wonder if he was ever that good to begin with. The numbers didn't lie, but there it didn't seem possible that the same pitcher could have thrown 207 innings of 2.34 ERA baseball.
Oh, we of little faith. Last night was a perfect storm. It was a young and eager team with happy bats, a home crowd, and a pitcher at the top of his game. The drama at the end was added by the director at the last second, trying to push the show over the edge. After the ninth, it became a game on par with Joe Morgan's home run, or Bonds throwing the go-ahead run out at the plate in the top of the ninth and then going deep to win the game in the bottom half. Last night's game was the greatest of oxymora; an instant classic.
I'm still buzzing.