Yeah, we missed it. Yesterday was the 17th anniversary of Bonds hitting his 69th home run of the 2001 season. It was really nice.
But it was also the 19th anniversary of Barry Bonds’ final home run at Candlestick Park. Listen to this highlight and remember how young Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow used to sound:
The main reason why I’m burning a post on these two anniversaries that aren’t even round number anniversaries is to get to this third Bonds highlight that isn’t quite as spectacular as a home run, but is significant nonetheless because of its implications for this present team.
Here’s Bonds diving for a line drive off the bat of Devon White in Game 1 of the 1997 NLDS against the Florida Marlins at Pro Player Stadium:
That play did not swing the outcome of the game, tilt the win probability slightly in the Giants’ favor, or preserve a no-hitter that Kirk Rueter would go on to lose. The Giants would lose this game 2-1 and get swept in the series as the Marlins marched on to win the World Series.
What this play represents, though, is the first time Bonds wore a Giants uniform in the playoffs. It was the first time the Giants had even reached the postseason since 1989 (thanks a lot, 1993!). It was the end of the first year of the Sabean era, coming off of back-to-back losing seasons (the Giants were 55-60 in a strike-shortened 1994). Including this 1997 season, the Giants went on to be a winning team for eight straight seasons before hitting the skids once again. Then they were down for four years and a mostly winning team (2013 excepted) for eight years.
Brian Sabean won’t get a chance to remake the team for a third time (nor does he want the opportunity), but whoever comes into the new front office (baseball ops and/or GM). they’ve got a lot to live up to.