Back in 2011, when the Giants traded for some guy named Angel Pagan, things were kinda sad around here. There were no guarantees that Buster Posey would ever catch again. The front office wasn't filling us with confidence after acquiring Orlando Cabrera on purpose. And while Pagan was a little younger than Andres Torres, it was probably a wash, which meant that a fan favorite was going away for dubious reasons.
In this context, I wrote a love letter to Torres, an unlikely star during the only championship run the Giants were going to enjoy for the next 30 years. I'm still proud of that post.
This isn't going to make sense to anyone else. If a White Sox fan sat me down and asked if I'd heard the good word about Scott Podsednik, I'd chew my arm off if it gave me a chance to escape. So don't pretend like we can explain this to other people. Loving Torres is something that's uniquely Giants fan.
This comes up now because Michael Morse is in town, and I blew it by not writing another love letter. I'm older, more spoiled, and sated on fatty championship spoils. Whereas Torres left in a time of great uncertainty, Morse left right after the I-can't-believe-they-did-it-again party. When the Marlins came into town, I actually forgot Morse was even on the team.
Watching the pregame ceremony last night, though, I couldn't remember a teammate getting that much love from his ex-teammates, at least the ones that left after just one season. During batting practice, Morse came out -- more socks than man -- and gave Bruce Bochy a huge bear hug. All throughout BP, players were coming up to him and chatting it up when they had a free second. Fans called for him in the background, and he acknowledged most of them with a big smile.
They probably remembered him hitting baseballs really far and smiling a lot. That's basically the point of this love letter. Remember that really happy guy who hit baseballs far? I liked him.
Let us celebrate with the three best highlights of his short, but effective, Giants career.
3. Watching Morse interact with Hunter Pence at any point during the season
You can use this if you want a specific video:
I don't remember the last players on the Giants who were so chummy. Kent and Bonds? Will have to investigate. But the True Detective Season 2 love these two had for each other would leak out of your TV screen and make you call your college roommate, just to catch up. What did they talk about? Wrestling, maybe. Video games, I guess. Whatever it was, though, they were always so into it.
2. Winning the danged World Series
If you prefer, you can swap this one for the next one, but this isn't just about the game-winning RBI. He started the scoring with a great at-bat, too.
And, yeah, there was a game-winning RBI in Game 7 of the World Series, too.
Who hit that?
That guy. And good for him. Morse was so dinged up that the Giants were literally willing to start Travis Ishikawa in left field, yet he still had the two most important at-bats of Game 7. Of course, there might not have been a Game 7 if not for ...
1. "Heading into the corrrrrnerrrr ...."
Ishikawa gets the bobbleheads and the lion's share of the attention, but without this home run, the Giants are facing Trevor Rosenthal, and your parents never meet. Now, Rosenthal was sorta sloppy in the NLCS, so there aren't any guarantees that the Giants wouldn't have got to him, but I'll err on the side of probability and suggest that he wouldn't have blown the save. Going back to St. Louis for two games, things could have got weird. Things could have got depressing.
Instead, Morse has his signature moment. It is a good moment. It's a moment that gets bonus points for also having one of the better Jon Miller calls of the postseason. It was one of the better Joe Buck calls, too. One of these days, we'll have to sit down and rank Giants home runs. Clark's grand slam. Brenly's redemption. Bonds setting records. And Morse's surprise come-from-behind dinger off the bench would probably make it to the sweet 16, at least.
That isn't to say that Morse is beloved around here just for the championship and little moments sprinkled throughout the season, though they certainly don't hurt. He's beloved around here because he was pure joy. Not necessarily on the baseball side of things -- he did play a lot of innings in the outfield, after all -- but in general. Here was a large, large man who could hit baseballs 450 feet, and he would get back to the dugout and smile and giggle and make faces and smile.
I miss him. Somehow the Giants found the goofiest bastard available to replace him, so it's not like things are worse on that front. But I still miss Morse. The absence of Pence makes it all seem worse somehow.
So take a moment to appreciate one Michael Morse. You probably didn't need that prompting. You spent all day appreciating the guy. I was so against his signing that I had "Welcome, Michael Morse" as the site's tagline early in the offseason ... months before he actually signed. He was a no-glove dinger monster, and I figured the no-glove part was going to be the important part. It wasn't.
Welcome back, Michael Morse. Thanks for all the stuff and feeling. Now if you could stop hitting the ball hard against Giants pitchers, that'd be swell.