Happy Tuesday, San Francisco Giants fans. The start of the 2023 MLB season is still two days away, but baseball has already gotten underway doing what it does best: making us feel things.
The Giants have 162 games (and hopefully a bit more!) to play this year, but we’ve already witnessed one of the best moments of the season: Sergio Romo.
In case you missed the news, the Giants brought Romo into Minor League camp so that the lovable franchise icon could retire in the orange and black. The plan was to have him spend some time with the team, get his arm back into shape, and pitch in Monday’s game against the Oakland A’s — the only Spring Training game that the Giants would be playing in front of their home crowd at Oracle Park.
It went exactly as expected. Which is to say: you probably cried.
Let’s roll some of the tape.
A moment that will never be forgotten pic.twitter.com/fOggzTofLH— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) March 28, 2023
The entrance was emotional, and the outing was memorable. Before Romo threw a pitch he was already down in the count 2-0 after not dutifully observing baseball’s new rules that he’ll never have to abide by. This prompted a fair amount of justified criticism.
Home plate umpire Nic Lentz called an automatic ball on Sergio Romo because he didn't complete his warm-up pitches on time. Umpires truly don't understand what they're here for.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) March 28, 2023
Romo was gracious about the moment when interviewed by Kruk and Kuip, and pointed out that the umps have to practice their protocol, too, but he also laughed that he “didn’t expect to walk a hitter on two pitches.”
He lasted three batters: that two-pitch walk, followed by a pair of singles. His location had the look of someone who hadn’t pitched since last season, but the movement on his trademark no-dot slider had the look of someone who, against all odds, is in the top 50 for number of pitcher appearances in MLB history.
And after he faced the minimum of three batters, Romo was taken out of the game by Hunter Pence, which seemed to surprise Romo as much as it surprised all of us.
Everything about it was classic Romo. Even through the intense emotions, he couldn’t stop smiling, later saying “I’d rather go out smiling than with tears in my eyes” (I think it was both for most of us). He told the broadcast booth that when the Giants approached him with this idea, the first thing he did was ask permission ... from his son, whom he had promised he’d be more present with now that he was retired.
And in the most Romo of moves, he donned a cap filled with autographs. Not from celebrities, or teammates. From the kids who had asked him for autographs.
Every time a kid asked Sergio Romo for an autograph in spring training he asked them to sign his hat first. He wore this to the mound tonight: pic.twitter.com/O3CXB5BLyr— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) March 28, 2023
We’ll never have another Sergio Romo.