I enjoyed that particular baseball game. Let us recount the ways.
But before the cataloging of heroes and ultra-heroes, there's something that should lead the recap. For on August 29, 2014, we witnessed one of the greatest at-bats in San Francisco Giants history. This will not be recorded in a team history, nor will it appear on a mural on a wall at AT&T Park in 40 years. It was an easy at-bat to forget, especially considering the Giants scored a baker's dozen runs, which happens once a year, at most.. But it was one of the greatest at-bats in San Francisco Giants history, and I have to tell you, this Sharper Image hyperbole meter has new batteries and everything, and it's still not going off.
Ryan Vogelsong. Bottom of the second. The game is still in doubt, and every run means something. Vogelsong was taking the at-bat as seriously as I took this post about Pablo Sandoval trade rumors. As in, okay, gotta do my business before I get back to the more important business. Then, on an 2-2 count, Wily Peralta buzzes Vogelsong with a pitch up and in.
It was cartoonish. Vogelsong's forearms got bigger, the anchor tattoos bulged, and he tooted a couple of toots on his corn cob pipe. He was instantly the greatest hitter in baseball history. He was Tony Gwynn, but with more bat control. Next pitch, pissed off foul. Pitch after that, pissed off foul. Pitch after that, pissed off foul. Pitch after that, opposite-field single.
There was legitimately more determination behind that at-bat than Marco Scutaro against Phil Coke in Game 4 of the 2012 World Series. It was the most locked in that I've ever seen a pitcher. He flipped the whatever switch to oh-****-you instantly, and he approached the rest of the at-bat like a hit was going to find a home for every kitten in every shelter in America.
It probably did.
It wasn't the most important hit of the game, and it probably wasn't in the top 10. But it was my favorite. It was probably my favorite of the year.
Now on to the shellacking.
Baseball Reference has something called Play Index, a vast, sortable, searchable database you can have access to if you pay them a tiny amount of money. I am an unabashed Play Index nerd. This was a Play Index game.
Every baseball team plays 162 games each year, give or take a rainout. Some of them are painfully boring. They're the stereotype in the heads of people who don't like baseball. Todd Scoon wins, Hamlin Sam loses, 5-1, time of game: 3:43. This was not one of those games. This was a game with minutiae and trivia leaking from its pores.
Such as a list of the last 20 Giants to have a five-hit game before Buster Posey did on Friday night:
Right. Solid group of names on that list. The list keeps going, too. Steve Scarsone. Tiny Felder. Shanty Hogan. They're all there. But just those 20 bring up such memories. Lowery really was the hottest hitter in baseball history for a while. Marvin Benard is still the best homegrown outfielder since Chili Davis. I have a Carl's Jr. bobblehead of Tsuyoshi Shinjo, and you'll have to fight me for it.
Buster Posey is on the list again, as he's in the middle of one of his absurd hot streaks. The Giants could have made a lot of trades at the deadline. They would have emptied the farm, though, for ridiculously hot Posey. It's been too long.
What's that? A list of the games with 13 runs or more since AT&T Park opened? Okay, I'm not made of stone.
|6||2004-08-18 (2)||MON||W 14-4|
The first one was the Shawn Estes game. Didn't even have to click the link. The last one was the freaky semi-comeback that was still strangely satisfying. I don't remember a lot of the ones in between. This one featured Ryan Sadowski shutting down current Astros/future Giants. Travis Ishikawa had a three-run homer. Wonder what happened to that guy...
The history of 18-hit games at AT&T Park? Sure, I can look that up, but only if you're demanding it and not because I'm a huge nerd. Here you go:
There's that stupid Reds game again. But then the Giants won the World Series that year, and they beat the Reds in the playoffs two years later. Screw you, Paul O'Neill.
Andrew Baggarly asked about the left fielders with three walks and a dinger before Gregor Blanco did it onFriday night, making an educated guess that it was Barry Bonds who did it. No, it was Melky Cabrera. Deion Sanders did it once, too.
Bonds did it a lot. But he never had five hits in a game for the Giants. A partial list of Giants with more five-hit games than Bonds:
- Kevin Frandsen
- Fred Lewis
- Deivi Cruz (twice)
- Tsuyoshi Shinjo
- Doug Mirabelli
- Terrell Lowery
- Steve Scarsone
Okay, I'm sorry, I'm done massaging my Jayson Stark gland. But it's so danged fun. So much fun.
Last month at this time, the Giants were dicking around with Dan Uggla.
Think about that. There was such a panic over second base, such a sense of hopelessness, that someone said, "HEY, WHAT ABOUT DAN UGGLA?" and at least one other professional baseball person said "YES. THAT IS A REASONABLE IDEA."
Joe Panik arrived, wearing a cape made out of singles and solid defense. He's got the swing like Mueller, he's got the swing like Mueller, he's got the swiiieiiiiing, he's got the swing like Mueller. And I liked Bill Mueller.
Buster Posey getting freaky hot is probably the most important thing for the Giants for the next month. But a credible second baseman coming from somewhere/anywhere was the next on the list. The answer appears to be Panik.
Proud to be a Panik fanboy since '12. Rarely wavered. You non-believers can't be enjoying this nearly as much as I am. JOE PANIK.