Five years ago, Matthew Thomas Cain threw the first perfect game in San Francisco Giants history. Christy Mathewson allowed at least one baserunner in every one of his games. So did Carl Hubbell, Gaylord Perry, and Juan Marichal. The franchise began as the New York Gothams in 1883, and it took until 2012 for a perfect game.
And, again, it was Matt Cain, the homegrown hero who had already given more to the franchise than more than anyone could have expected.
How was that five years ago? We were so innocent then. Just one championship. The Warriors were 23-43. We didn’t know what a Matt Duffy or Joe Panik was. Hunter Pence was that weirdo from the Phillies. And Matt Cain was incredible.
Here, watch the outs again. It’s one of the very best Giants games in the history of the franchise, and it’s still eminently watchable.
While it was obvious at the time that this would be the signature game of Cain’s career, just because a perfect game would qualify for the signature game of anyone’s career, we didn’t realize that we were watching his last dominant season. A month after that, Cain started the All-Star Game, and it looked like he was going to continue being a horse for the next few seasons.
Baseball comes at you quickly. So appreciate these moments when they pop up. Like you need a reminder when it comes to a perfect game, but still.
I’ll remember this outing on a personal level because 2012 was a rough season for me, and when the game started, I felt like curling into a ball and sucking my thumb. It was the middle of the season, I was working about 75 hours a week back then, rarely leaving my apartment, and the last thing I wanted to do was watch a random Giants/Astros game in the middle of June.
As the game went on, I started to worry that Cain was going to throw a perfect game. That’s the kind of spot I was in by the fifth or sixth inning.
Oh, no. He’s really going to do this. I don’t have the energy for this. I have nothing left to say about baseball. I’m a fraud. I just want to go to sleep. Please give up a hit.
Then Gregor Blanco made the catch that will define his Giants career. I still have no idea how he got there, considering that he was playing right field at the time.
When it happened, I laughed. And laughed and laughed and laughed.
Baseball was fun again. That catch was the kick in the ass that I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself. And, heck yes, I was rooting for Cain to complete it after that. I published my 50 Awesome Things post at 1:13 a.m., and I think I stayed up for another two hours, attending to odds and ends, watching and rewatching. And I did it all with a big ol’ smile on my face because Matt Cain threw a perfect game.
I was supposed to be at that game. There was some sort of golf-related promotion before the game (featuring Matt Cain driving golf balls into the San Francisco Bay), and I was invited to cover it. I had ideas for what to write, how to make it silly and on-brand, even though I would be there for the free tickets and nothing more. But I forgot to respond. When the day came, I realized that I forgot to respond, and I figured chasing down the credential the day of was going to be too much hassle.
I always figured that if I were there, I would have bumped into the usher who radioed the usher in Larry Baer’s section who would have said something different to Baer, who would have looked at Bruce Bochy differently, who would have had a different tone in his voice when Cain came back to the dugout, which would have altered his delivery by a millimeter, which would have ruined everything. I don’t regret not going, in other words. Really, if you think about it, I’m just as responsible as Cain for the perfect game. At least 50-50.
Or, maybe not, and maybe it was just an amazing performance and one of the most unforgettable baseball games I’ll ever watch. Giants fans have been spoiled, and that’s still true in a dismal season like this one. AT&T Park is a gem, and this team has given us so many memories there.
This was one of the finest.
So Happy Matt Cain day, everyone. Do something really nice for your significant other, and then have them lose your car keys. That’s the tradition around these parts, honoring Cain’s Giants career. It’s hard to believe it was five years ago, but here we are.
Feels like it was yesterday.
ARRRRIAS, FROM DEEP THIRRRRRRRD! GOT ‘IM!
I can recall those words, how they sounded, how it felt, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. I can only hope that’s the case in 50 years, too.