I don’t write about baseball as much as I used to. In fact, this morning instead of writing a little something about one of my all-time favorite Giants, I was going to dig up the post I wrote the day after his perfect game and just link to that, but then I discovered that all of the image links in the post were broken. (Hey, at least now I know that when I moved my site to a new server, oh, last year, that the image links on old posts didn’t convert properly. I am on top of things!) Not to mention the gallery full of photos that I linked to at the end of said post doesn’t exist anymore. (Like I said, super on top of things here.) So instead of being lazy and linking to something I wrote five years ago, let’s get a little sappy and sentimental on this, the day of Matt Cain’s very last start.
Matt Cain came along when the Giants were pretty bad. They didn’t have a whole lot going for them other than Barry Bonds hitting home runs, and in 2005 Barry Bonds was on the DL, so there weren’t even majestic dingers to get excited about. Enter Matt Cain. He was young. He was talented. He was the future. And I was super excited when he was called up. I couldn’t even watch his first start, but I was texting a friend for updates. “How did he look? How were things going? Was he as awesome as I hoped he’d be?” (Oh, the dark ages when there weren’t up to the second updates on Twitter. Oh, the days when I blissfully woke up without wondering what fresh hell awaits me on Twitter. I DIGRESS.)
Matt Cain’s arrival was the beginning of the super awesome era of Giants baseball, even if it took a few years to get to the championships and other good stuff. Oh, there were Cainings. Many Cainings. But there were so many other great things.
There are two Matt Cain games that I attended that I’ll probably always remember. One was his perfect game. Obviously. I’ll never ever be able to forget the feeling of being in the stands that night. I was at the very top row of view reserve behind home plate and as the game went on and people realized what was happening, you could feel the tension between each pitch and then the explosion of excitement after each out. (I could feel the ballpark vibrating under my feet.) I’m also pretty sure we all wanted to keel over and barf as that last out went to Joaquin Arias and he double clutched the ball. Watching the clip still makes me queasy. But as we all know, he got that 27th out. Matt Cain was perfect.
One of my other happy Matt Cain memories is his start in the 2010 NLCS. It was one of those rare afternoon playoff games. I decided to go at the last minute since ticket prices were pretty good. The weather was gorgeous. And Matt Cain, as he usually was in the postseason, was brilliant that afternoon. After the game, I lingered at my seat, listening to Tony Bennett, marveling over the fact that the Giants were possibly two wins away from a trip to the World Series. (And as we know, 2010 turned out pretty well.)
(Just got distracted for a second because I discovered that 2010 NLCS game is on YouTube. Pardon me.)
I don’t get super emotional over a lot of of baseball things, but Matt Cain retiring? Yeah, that gets to me. It’s the end of an era in a way. The last current Giant to have played with Barry Bonds. The longest-tenured Giant. Championships, all-star appearances, a perfect game. An all-around good guy. And he’s tied to so many of my happiest Giants memories.
Thanks for all of it, Matt Cain. You’ll always be one of my favorites.