The Giants faced Jose Fernandez just three times in his career, and he left after six innings each time. There isn’t a rich history of him versus the Giants to discuss, as much as I would like there to be. Also, somehow this year’s team beat the Marlins twice on the days he pitched, which seems like something Baseball-Reference just added last week to mess with us.
It’s not like I can think of anything else but Fernandez today, though, so you’re going to have to indulge me. I wish the Giants made it to the NLCS last year and that he struck out 16 batters in Game 7, just so we could appreciate we could appreciate his talent in an easily relatable, more personal fashion. Something that all Giants fans remembered easily. They were on different sides of the country, though, and the franchises haven’t crossed orbits in a while, there isn’t a lot of history between them. That’s a shame.
There was one moment, though. And it’s worth revisiting with the benefit of hindsight to appreciate just how great of a baseball moment it really was. Fernandez came back from Tommy John surgery to face the Giants, and it was simply exciting that he was pitching at all. Then he did this:
At the time, it was just another dumb thing happening to an odd-year Giants team. Of course Fernandez came back against the Giants, of all teams. And of course the pitcher hit a home run off Matt Cain, who just might not be as good as he used to be.
In retrospect, it was probably one of the best highlights of the Marlins’ season. And as you might know, baseball seasons are very, very long. We wade through them hoping for moments like that, even if we tell ourselves that nothing matters except the postseason and the World Series and the postseason and the World Series. The odds are always against that, so either we’re fools or we’re really looking for individual moments. It’s like we’re digging through crates of records at garage sales, day after day, and every couple months we find something that justifies the search.
I’m not going to pretend that this should be a lesson to appreciate when the other team wins dramatically or does good things that harm the Giants. We’ll never get out of the way of our fanaticism, and it would be a weird, lobotomized experience if we could. Getting mad at the other team is sort of our right.
But watching this home run makes me want to appreciate this season for the Giants. At least some of it. The Marlins didn’t have a second-half collapse last year; they were just lousy all year. They fired their manager and replaced him with their GM, which ... c’mon, Marlins. In the middle of it, though, they had this. And look at how happy the crowd is. It probably takes a lot of patience and forgiveness to be a Marlins fan, though Fernandez sure made a heckuva lot easier. In the middle of a typically sad Marlins season, there was this.
So while tomorrow will probably feature a topic like, "When should the Giants really have moved on from Santiago Casilla?", and rightfully so, I’d like to reserve today for sharing the moments that made you happy to follow this particular sportsball team in 2016.
Trevor Brown’s home run was one of my favorites from the last decade, regardless of the season ends.
Watching this masterpiece gave me hope for this season and the one after it:
Brandon Crawford’s walk-off after Brown’s home run was phenomenal, but it was his final, seventh hit against the Marlins that was his greatest triumph of the season.
Maybe getting the hit that forced Buster Posey to slide face-first was his greatest triumph. We’ll have to argue about that later. Anyway, this isn’t an official ranking, which is something best left to the offseason. These are just some moments that I’m thinking of more on Monday than I otherwise would have because I’m watching how excited the Marlins fans were in that video, thinking about how it was an outstanding paragraph in a chapter of Fernandez’s life. Thinking about how baseball is probably a good thing after all, even if it’s hard to see in a season like this.
Your regularly scheduled complaining will resume tomorrow. For now, though, let’s all just remember a fun thing and convince someone else of just how much fun it is.