For the next 50 years, you'll see video of Travis Ishikawa hitting a home run to send the Giants to the World Series. Every time it comes on, you'll smile. Every time you think about it, you'll remember why you follow sports, why you care so much about something that's supposed to mean nothing. On a bad June day, when the Giants have lost their eighth straight, you'll click on a video of Ishikawa's home run to cheer up and remind yourself that baseball weaves haphazardly toward a target that's three miles off the paved road.
Literally Travis Ishikawa.
There are different ways to root and cheer for a team. I used to be an angry fan. Everything was Scott Spiezio. Everything was Benny Agbayani. This bled into every move, every roster decision. When the Giants signed a defense-first catcher who couldn't hit back in 2005, it made me so danged mad. When the Giants traded for this guy or that guy, giving up Can't Touch Prospect or Absolutely Can't Touch Prospect, it ate holes in my stomach for weeks.
If the Giants made the playoffs in those years, and they were forced to start an ex-prospect who was sleeping on the couch because he had nowhere else to go -- out of position, no less -- it would have sent me over the edge. This is your solution? You went through an entire offseason and trading deadline, and this is the depth you're calling on in the postseason?
That fan is long gone. Maybe he's grown soft and fat. Maybe he's wiser. Maybe he's progressively dumber, or maybe the sense of entitlement just shifted over by a few degrees and morphed into something the old me wouldn't recognize. But I was into the Ishikawa experiment. It was ridiculous. It was comical. Ishikawa's contract was printed in comic sans for a team whose story will be written in wingdings. It didn't make any sense, but neither did anything else. I was in. If the Giants are going to troll the world, let's pick a funny player to do it.
Not even joking: That player was Travis Ishikawa, playing out of position.
Ishikawa played with Barry Bonds. He was a semi-prospect on a team that needed real prospects, and he became an odd backup for the Giants -- a lefty behind a lefty. After 2010, I thought he would be the last song on side four of the 2010 double album. "Remember That Walk." It would be 2:09 and catchy as all hell, but it wouldn't get any radio play. Aficionados and enthusiasts only.
Except it wasn't so funny when he took an awful route in left to give the Cardinals an early run in Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS. You suddenly remembered: That guy shouldn't be here. Wait a sec, he ... that's not an outfielder. He doesn't hit enough to pretend to be an outfielder. Isn't he in his 30s now? Why is ... how did ... what happened?
Ishikawa is a part of the lore now. Mays going back on a ball, his hat falling off, spinning around and throwing the ball in. Will Clark up the middle off Mitch Williams. David Bell sliding home. Edgar Renteria off Cliff Lee. Marco Scutaro, arms wide, taking in the rain. Miguel Cabrera looking for a slider that never came. And Travis Ishikawa sitting on a 2-0 fastball, and hitting it as hard as he could.
The Giants won the pennant. The Giants ... this team of confusing, amazing bozos ... won the pennant.
We've seen a lot of ridiculous things over the last few years. This is probably the most ridiculous, which, by the laws of baseball-god physics, makes it one of the best. Travis Ishikawa hit the home run. Literally Travis Ishikawa.