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McCovey Chronicles Roundtable #9: The best of 2019’s first half

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Did the Giants accidentally create some last memories in the first half of the season?

St Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In our first roundtable of the year, the staff shares their strongest memories of the season’s first half. The Giants were supposed to be unwatchably bad, and for the first couple months of the season, they were; and yet, some things stood out.

Sami

Obviously this is recency bias, but I quite liked the Austin Slater grand slam game. Considering half of us were there for it. And also the fact that the Giants have recently tended to lose games in which they hit grand slams. So that was a nice change. Also, a Pablo Sandoval dinger, which you love to see.

I also really liked the June 12th game against the Padres, another one I was there for and sitting just a few rows away from first base as I got to see the Giants not only win, but score the first runs I’d gotten to see in person in nearly three years. After two years of complete game shut-outs, I was due, I guess. Plus, I got to see Will Smith, All Star Super-Closer, pitch in person twice, which will make for fond memories when he is gone.

The 18-inning victory over Colorado was certainly something. You never quite know what you’re made of until you get home on a Friday afternoon after a long week at work, only to settle in to recap a SIX HOUR BASEBALL GAME. I don’t know if I would view it as fondly if they hadn’t won, but they did win and now no one else can ever set off fireworks in San Francisco at one in the morning because of it. And to be honest, I feel like that game should negate the need for the double header next week, since it was the equivalent of two full games. But what do I know?

Roger

I won’t try to overthink this. The first thing that came to my mind was Kevin Pillar’s catch in Cincinnati. And then a supplemental wave of weird and inspiring occurrences from that series: Buster’s first (oops, second) HR, the 8-run comeback, Vogt’s game winner, bees.

It was a memorable midweek in the midwest!

If I may be indulged a prospect memory as well, Marco Luciano collecting a double, triple and homer the same day as widely circulated dumb tweet regarding “whispers about his questionable hit tool” (after two professional games) was phenomenal.

Kenny

(The Vogt home run in the 8-run comeback)

Brady

There is an objectively correct answer here, and that’s the eight-run comeback. I realize this prompt isn’t necessarily about “best” memory or moment, but still. Come one. Eight-run comeback! Clutch hits with the game on the line! A franchise-record comeback for an offensively inept team! I mean... that’s everything.

Yet the game that sticks in my head from the first half of the season is the 18-inning victory over the Rockies. The two teams played the equivalent of two games of baseball, without flinching. And when you’re at a full quarter of a day of baseball, the investment is amplified.

It was still early in the season. The Giants were already a few games below .500, sitting at 5-9. In the long run, the game didn’t mean much, but at the time, you could feel the potential ramifications. Force an extra two-three hours of baseball, just so you can lose at home at one in the morning, and fall to 5-10? Yeah, that would hurt big time.

But the larger the opportunity for agony, the larger the opportunity for thrill. The Giants didn’t fall to 5-10 and lose in debilitating fashion. They salvaged a game, won in tremendously bizarre and entertaining fashion, and went home happy in the middle of the night.

This is also my favorite memory because, unlike in the playoff series against the Nationals, I didn’t watch the full 18 innings. I told my partner I’d watch the game and then we could go out. So I watched nine innings, said to heck with it, and we went on a date. A drive, a meal, and a drive later, and I was home in time to watch the last three innings of the baseball game.

What a nice Friday night.

Doug

There were better moments in the first half than this, and there were more important moments than this, and there were moments involving players who I’m much more attached to than this. This is probably just recency bias, but since the coolest games -- 8 run comeback, 18 innings, etc -- were already taken, I feel fine about it:

Holy crap, Evan Longoria his a monster home run in San Diego.

I mean, you saw that, right? It was 10 feet from the roof of the Western Metal Supply building. It was majestic. The archetype of what a home run should be. There was absolutely no doubt off the bat, it scored a bunch of runs for the Giants, and holy crap, look at that home run.

The Giants had bigger hits in the first half. Heck, the Giants had bigger home runs in the first half. Just restricting things to Longoria, his shot on Sunday, which won the game and was also a no doubter, came in a much bigger situation. But something about hitting the ball off the top of a building just gets to me. And I think that something is: holy crap, look at that home run.

Kevin

No, not just because a bunch of grown men yelling that is objectively funny. But Alex Dickerson coming up, out of seemingly nowhere, hitting a monster home run and then becoming an RBI king, it honestly was the first time this season that it really felt like this team was having fun. It was a reminder that sometimes, even in the crappiest of seasons, there are things you can have fun with. And it’s these memorable, fun times in the worst of times that bind certain fans together.

Whether it’s memories of Ruben Rivera twisted up on the basepaths, of Johnny “Boo” LeMaster embracing the fans negative attention, or watching Omar Vizquel’s ageless Fred Astaire of baseball’s moves, or any of a number of other things, fun can be had in any baseball game, in any season, regardless of the win or loss total. Double this for when it’s a cast-off making good; after all, that’s why we loved that 2010 team. And years from now, when the bandwagoners are back as Lucky Luciano, Hot Heliot, and the Bart Train are riding us to their second World Series title, someone in the bar will start chanting “Dick! Dick! Dick!” and look around, and will know that whomever else has that knowing smirk was there in the bad days as well.

ShutupWesley

To paraphrase Death Grips: Eight-run comebacks are cool, but there’s more things in life, like getting your first hit of your whole ****ing career.

But even better than securing a batting average is making your wife react like this:

I don’t know how to check this, but Mike Yastrzemski must be one of the only players in MLB history who recorded an out on their first career hit. And you know what? Good for him. Literally thousands of players have notched at least one hit in their careers. Only a sliver have TOOTBLAN’d their way into our memory banks.

Thirty years down the line, I’ll have forgotten about the comebacks, the home runs, the pitching gems. But as my brain begins its race into the void of cognitive decline, I will still remember this moment of triumph and defeat encapsulated⁠ — and I’m sure his family won’t let him forget, either.

Bryan

I’ll close with the closer. Nobody mentioned Will Smith, but look at everything Will Smith has accomplished: 23-for-23 in saves, a 1.98 ERA, and top of the league stuff. He doesn’t through 98+ but he’s been highly effective with 94, location, and sharp breaking pitches. In a league that’s all about power pitching, he’s walking the line between grizzled finesse and effective velocity. Practically a throwback. He’s the hammer at the end of a strong bullpen and one of the only players on the team we can just root for without worry. Until he’s traded.