Are you paralyzed with fear? I'm paralyzed with fear. It's a hope-filled fear. We've felt it in the past. Before Lee/Lincecum, before Cain/Scherzer. It's an odd feeling, knowing that the Giants are exactly where you would want them to be -- up 2-0, at home, with their best pitcher on the mound -- and yet mostly certain the world will end if they don't win Game 3. Because then everything tightens up in Game 4, with the Nationals having the pitching advantage, which means they would go back to Washington, which means, no, no, no, no.
There's nothing to do but breathe into a paper bag for the next five hours. Unless you want to talk about dingers.
Say, I want to talk about dingers.
How about that dinger? Mighty fine dinger, I reckon. The kind of dinger that made me want to scramble and make a subjective list of the Most Important Home Runs in Giants History. Except I don't think I'm versed enough in Giants history to make a proper list. I can remember Mark Lewis's grand slam against the Mets in '97, but I couldn't tell you about the unlikely homer in '62 that allowed the Giants to (gain on/keep pace with) the Dodgers.
Luckily, Baseball-Reference.com allows us to sort all of the Giants postseason home runs by leverage, so I can do a top-10 based on their metrics. According to their stats, there have been 20 postseason home runs in the San Francisco era that have qualified as "high-leverage." This is #20:
I'm ashamed to admit that I forgot about that home run and its importance. Subconsciously, though, I'm sure it was one of the reasons I would snap at people complaining about Blanco too much this year. Ungrateful twits, look at that dinger!
Let's see where Belt ranks on the leverage index, then. Can he crack the top 10?
10. Buster Posey, Game 4, 2012 World Series
Right away, we get into a bit of a debate about the definition of high-leverage situations. This was the fourth game of a best-of-seven, with the Giants up 3-0. Just below this home run on the list, was Posey's grand slam against Mat Latos.
Yeah, that one. We fete that one because of the situation, whereas the one in the World Series is certainly remembered fondly, but as the reason the Giants won that year. When it comes to in-game leverage, Posey's homer against Scherzer was a doozy.
9. Tito Fuentes, Game 1, 1971 NLCS
With the Giants down 1-0 in the first game of the NLCS, Fuentes hit a homer. He had four home runs in the regular season, including an inside-the-parker. There's no video, of course, but Willie Stargell's biography, Pops, describes it as being "hammered ... into the right-field stands." It was essentially a Joaquin Arias homer at the perfect moment. These Giants should be so lucky.
8. Brandon Belt, Game 2, 2014 NLDS
It wasn't a bat flip. People keep saying it was, but it was a bat ejection. It was a debatting. It was a player who needed to get rid of the bat as quickly as possible because having anything in his hands at all might take away from the experience of watching the dead baseball arc and bend as it flew toward its eternal resting place, defined as "really far away from here." It was a pretty home run.
Again, the leverage doesn't take into account that players were openly weeping in both dugouts, rolling around and shrieking, "I JUST WANNA GO HOME. I JUST WANNA GO HOME." Seems like some leverage bonus points could be added for that.
7. Barry Bonds, Game 3, 2002 NLCS
Oh, how this should have won the danged game. It was so perfect -- who pitches to Bonds when he's the tying run with three people on base?
Instead, Jay Witasick gave up a home run to Eli Marrero about six seconds later, possibly as Bonds was rounding third. The Giants never scored again.
Well, they did in Games 4 and 5. Good thing, too.
6. Robby Thompson, Game 3, 1989 NLCS
This one doesn't get the love that Will Clark's hits do -- mostly because Clark hit .999 during the series, with the one out moving the runner to third in his 1,000th AB -- but it was a crucial spot. The Cubs were up 4-3 in the game, and the series was tied 1-1. You know how the butterfly effect works. If the Giants lose that game, your parents don't meet. Instead, Thompson hit the two-run homer, and neither team scored another run.
Unfortunately, you can get video of Thompson using his wrong arm to make a pitching change, but not this home run. Seems like something that would be nice to have. Also, I don't think that we talk enough about "Robby Thompson" and "Bobby Thomson" both playing second base for the Giants and hitting big dingers at big moments. If the Giants are waffling between two high school kids one June, and one of them is a middle infielder named "Roberto Tomson," they shouldn't hesitate.
5. Brandon Crawford, 2014 Wild Card Game
4. J.T. Snow, Game 2, 2000 NLDS
For years before 2010, this was one of the default highlights the Giants would stick in a montage, and it made me want to put my foot through the TV. It was like the Braves replaying the Eric Hinske home run for years and years, ignoring whatever happened after that.
For 10 minutes, though, this home run was the greatest.
Edit: Twitter gadfly LOLKNBR just pointed out that after years of watching, he noticed something new. Look at Snow's eyes before the camera cuts away. Then look at Bonds at second motioning to his left.
Cheating! Glorious, acceptable cheating! That 2000 team was the best, dammit.
3. Will Clark, Game 1, 1989 NLCS
Rick Wrona: What do you want to throw him?
Greg Maddux: Fastball.
Wrona: Foshball? What the hell's a foshball?
Wrona: Pass the ball? More of a running situation, I'd think ... wait a sec, is this a test?
Maddux: Fastball, you idiot. Fastball!
The game ended up being a blowout, but it was just 4-3 at this point. Maddux's big mouth put it out of reach, and it's why pitchers and catchers cover their danged mouths with their mitts now.
2. Edgar Renteria, Game 5, 2010 World Series
In retrospect, it might seem like this was something that sped up the inevitable. The Giants were up 3-1 in the Series. What, like if they lost that game, they couldn't win one of the two remaining games at home?
Uh, yeah. That game was terrifying, and Renteria saved us. I actually had someone tell me he was angry at Edgar Renteria because he had tickets for Game 6. It was the last time we talked about baseball.
1. Chuck Hiller, Game 4, 1962 World Series
After Crawford hit his grand slam, the networks have been flashing a graphic of all the grand slams in Giants postseason history. Posey against Latos, sure. Clark off Maddux. Crawford in the Wild Card. And then some dude named Hiller from a long time ago, whatever, let's watch the Crawford slam again.
Except think of the circumstances: The Giants were in Yankee Stadium, down 2-1 in the Series. Their best pitcher, Juan Marichal, had to leave the game because the ball hit his hand on a bunt attempt. The Yankees just tied the game up with a pair of two-out hits. The Giants loaded the bases with one out in the following inning, but Harvey Kuenn hit a pop-up that couldn't score the runner. The Giants' last chance in the inning was a slap-hitting second baseman with a slugging percentage of .334 in the regular season.
The grand slam eventually led to that, so there's a touch of Snow/Benitez in it, but considering the circumstances, it was one of the very best dingers in Giants postseason history.
Here's hoping that Posey's homer against Scherzer falls off today. Heck, here's hoping all of them fall off by the end of the month. Belt's homer was one of the best in franchise history. Even if you already figured that much out, it's nice to see the kind of company it's keeping.