One of the first five games of my live was the Joe Morgan game. See, there's no need to give you a year or provide any context. It was just the Joe Morgan game. It knocked the Dodgers out of the playoffs. All of the woodland creatures' homes were saved. Diseases were cured. Should have been there, man. Should have been there.
Last night has an outside chance of being one of those games. Imagine setting your grandchild on your lap, and regaling them with this story:
But I was there the day they knocked the Dodgers out of a tie for first before the All-Star break. Where are you going? Hey, don't you give me the finger!
It's hard to get too excited, though, with the news that Mike Matheny could possibly have to retire. I'm a hard-liner when it comes to concussions; when in doubt, stay off the field. That the Giants have a surprisingly productive catcher to replace him is irrelevant. Even if the team had to start Jose Vizcaino behind the plate, sending Matheny away would be the right move.
I wasn't exactly a fan of the Matheny deal when it was first announced, and expressed mild disappointment with the move. It was never possible to fully embrace the deal, but things did turn out differently than expected. It was a safe bet that Matheny would slide into the role vacated by Neifi Perez in my weird little world; a scapegoat, target for easy jokes, and lightning rod for all criticisms (deserved or not).
That never materialized. Matheny had a lot of hits in crucial situations last season, which helped. Even though clutch hitting is not usually a repeatable skill, that doesn't mean you should ignore it when it happens. The limited offense he provided last year was leveraged well, and that kept him in the good graces of Giants fans all season long.
But, more importantly, the defense shined. It's easy to see how teams like the Astros, as well as their fans, can be seduced by the ethereal qualities of a steady backstop. This isn't to insinuate that his defense more than made up for his lack of offense, but it was still fun to watch. After years of Benito "Stabby" Santiago, and A.J. "Better than you'd think, but still bad" Pierzynski, it was a treat to have Matheny behind the plate. It never made sense to pick on him like it did with Neifi. I enjoyed watching Yorvit Torrealba too, but second guessing isn't the point here.
This whole "past tense" thing might be waaaay premature - heck, there isn't even a write up in the Chronicle about this - but you have to think it isn't looking good. Maybe the headaches will go away, but the potential for another concussion would always be there. And as any 49er fan around for the end of the Steve Young era will tell you, doctors always describe the effects of concussions as coming exponentially. The next one isn't just one more concussion to add to the pile; it comes easier, and would be much more devastating than the first concussion. Brains ain't nothing to mess with.
I had never even heard of a catcher getting a concussion from foul tips before. The report from KNBR really got to me for some reason. That, coupled with the Monta Ellis injury, really put a damper on last night. If you need me, I'll be in the tub.
But it's always nice to win against the Dodgers. Always.