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Post-game thread: Matt Cain

It was John McGraw who once said ...

If you can't win the pennant, at least annoy the Padres.

Which was impressively prescient seeing as the Padres weren't even a team back then. The Giants moved to 11-6 against the Padres on the year, which almost makes up for the punishment that San Diego gave the Giants last year. Also making up for the punishment the Padres gave the Giants last year: the delirium of a World Series parade, confetti tickling your ears as you scream until your tonsils ache, exulting not just for yourself, but for the fans before you who didn't get to see this happen.

The Giants having a winning record against the Padres this year also helps.

When Matt Cain came up from the minor leagues, he was one of two reasons to watch the Giants. The other one was Barry Bonds, but when the Giants were in the post-2004 decline, it was almost sad to watch Bonds do good things for an awful team. He would draw a walk, and then Pedro Feliz would strike out three straight times to end the inning. You knew that Bonds wouldn't be around for the next good Giants team. That wasn't true with Cain, though. He was the first unrealistic hope of a brighter Giants tomorrow.

Think of what it was like to be a Giants fan back then. Ainsworth, Foppert, and Williams all burned out and flamed away. Ryan Vogelsong was traded and never heard from again. Pitching prospects just didn't pan out if you were a Giants fan. Shawn Estes had his one great year, a couple of okay years mixed with pain, and that was the post-Barr legacy. They'd come up, tantalize, and flame away. Garrelts, Hammaker, Downs, Swift, Torres, VanLandingham, Ortiz, Estes ... they all had their moments, but they were never that guy.

Maybe Cain would be that guy. Seemed plucky enough, he did. He was the reason to watch the Giants other than Bonds in 2005 and 2006. He was the future if you were willing to suspend disbelief. One day, maybe Cain would ... would ... make an All-Star Game or two! Maybe!

And then Tim Lincecum came along with his olive-oil hair and his Cy Young charm, and he became the ace of the staff. It was Lincecum who was on the mound in Game Five of the World Series, Lincecum who was matching up with Roy Halladay to get there. That's not a bad thing -- turns out that Lincecum is pretty swell -- but it wasn't really Matt Cain who was the unquestioned leader of the pitching staff that took the Giants to all sorts of wacky places.

So here, as per law, is your annual Matt Cain appreciation thread. He didn't get the win, but that's because he doesn't want to be garish about the whole thing. He's a sub-.500 pitcher, sure, but maybe that means we can lock him up for five years in the offseason because it's 1938 and front-office types are really paying attention to pitcher wins. Matt Cain is an amazing pitcher, and one of the best in franchise history. It's a long history. Matt Cain.

This might be the best season Matt Cain has ever had, which is impressive, him being Matt Cain and all. His home runs are way down. His walk rate continues to dip. His strikeout rate is actually up a tick. The last time he didn't get through five innings was in April. He's Matt Cain, and he's better than you.

There are things about this game that bugged the absolute crap out of me -- Brandon Belt's ass-velcro keeping him on the bench for 29 innings or whatever, and Conor Gillaspie pinch-hitting over Andres Torres, only to have Torres come in on a double-switch in the next inning, for example. There were other good stories -- I really, really thought Mark DeRosa's career was over three different times this season, yet here he is, having a nice finish to the season. But it was a Matt Cain Production through and through. He's good, and by acknowledging that he was the main reason the Giants won tonight, maybe that makes up for those stupid pitcher wins.

Matt Cain.