Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Five Best Games of 2005

I've been meaning to do something like this for a while now, picking the best games of the 2005 season. Now, I realize that finding five games from last year that qualify as the "best" is like trying to pick out the highlights of Philip Michael Thomas's post-Miami Vice career, but there were some memorable games. In a dismal year full of injuries and Felipe Alou's increasingly crazy in-game decision-making, these games stood out as the highlight. Most of those picked out are basically selected because they had some sentimental value or at least had some personal meaning to me or Giants fans in general.

Doing this kind of thing with a team like the 1997 version of the Giants would be remarkably easier, because there are so many moments from that season that stick out in the mind. I can immediately think of at least ten awesome games from that season. Finding the greatest games of a 75-win team...eh, not so easy. I'm basically grasping at straws, but hey, at least the list includes a game where fat Livan got his comeuppance of sorts. Anyway, here we go...

5. Alou Goes Yard and Ginter Makes an Ass of Himself as Giants Beat A's
Ok, so this is here because of personal reasons, but it was a fun game. You see, this Interleague game between the two Bay Area rivals was featured on Sunday Night Baseball on May 22. The A's and Giants had split the first two games and were gearing up for the rubber match. At this time, I was in Las Vegas with some friends, doing all kinds of crap that I can't really remember too well. My buddy, an A's fan, decided to bet me $20 that the A's would win.

I was out in the Stratosphere Hotel pool trying to catch the last rays of the day and eyeing various bikini-clad ladies as the game started, so I didn't get around to catching it until about the sixth inning. When I clicked on the TV, the Giants were coming up to bat down 1-0. Sure enough, within like a minute of me flicking on the television, Moises Alou hit a line-drive bomb off of Barry Zito to put the Giants ahead.

Later on, my pal, who was in the process of losing an obscene amount of money, walked in to see the A's trailing, and then watched his money go down the toilet as Keith Ginter single-handedly gave the Giants another run in the eighth inning with two errors (one on a dropped pop up). Not surprisingly, Ginter wouldn't last too much longer as a regular. I was given my twenty bucks (which I subsequently blew on roulette), and tipped my cap to Moises for his heroics.

Also, before this game, SF Weekly's Tommy Craggs conducted a one-on-one, um, interview with Joe "Sabermetrics-killed-my-cat-and-raped-my-dog" Morgan. This bizarre exchange turned into this absolutely hilarious article about how Joe has basically no idea what he's talking about. A classic read.

4. Randy Winn Hits For Cycle Against Reds
This was pretty much the game that touched off Randy Winn's Sherman's March against the NL over the last month and a half of the season. After this game, Winn was insanely good, and it seemed like he was threatening the cycle like every other game. Of course, the Reds' pitching sucks and all, but Winn actually knocked three legs of the cycle against Aaron Harang, a good starter and Cincinnati's best pitcher. It was the first time a Giants player had hit for the cycle since Jeff Kent did it in 1999, and it was the first sign of a hot streak that would provide some much-needed excitement for Giants fans.

This game is also notable because Pedro Feliz had three walks! At least, I don't think that's a typo. I guess the Reds' pitching staff is so bad that they turn Feliz into Kevin Youkilis. I'm guessing it's the last time we'll see that in a long while.

3. Giants Stay Alive With Win Over Hoffman
Easily the most exciting game of the season, as the Giants staged a miracle comeback against the Padres to keep their meager playoff hopes alive. Down by a run in the ninth, with two out and one man on, Randy Winn smashed a triple off of San Diego's great closer Trevor Hoffman to tie it, and J.T. Snow singled to put the Giants ahead a batter later. Amazingly, the Giants were able to stage this rally in an inning where Pedro Feliz, Mike Matheny, and Edgardo Alfonso all batted. Talk about miracles.

This game conjured up the kind of fist-pumping emotion that had been lacking for so long. The last time I was so excited over the Giants was when Feliz launched that grand slam against the Dodgers in September 2004. Of course, it turned out to be a big dry hump, as the Giants lost the next three games to put the noose on their postseason hopes.

2. King Barry Returns
In the most anticipated game of the season, Barry returned from three knee surgeries and lots of mindless media speculation and nearly hit a home run in his first at bat. Duane Kuiper's butchered home run call on the play ("It is outta here!...No, it's off the wall!) is now stuff of legend. The double was Bonds' only hit in the game, but it was well worth the price of admission. The energy at Mays Field was simply electric as Bonds stepped to the plate. Watching him hobble around in the outfield was less pleasant, however.

The Giants got down early thanks to Kevin Correia's typical Nuke LaLoosh impression, but were able to come back behind Ray Durham's home run and Matt Kinney's inexplicably solid relief outing. Unfortunately, I had to catch most of the game on highlights because it was playing on a dinky little TV in the corner of the sports bar I was at that night. The Monday Night Football game took precedence on the big screen, so instead of watching an exciting Giants game I got to witness Michael Vick single-handedly destroy my fantasy team from within.

1. Moises Hits a Game-Winning Bomb Off Fatso; I Rejoice
Ok, this whole disaster of a season was worth it just for this game alone. In this late-season game in D.C., our favorite Cuban gastropod Livan Hernandez was dominating the Giants as he's always done since leaving in 2003. Going into the ninth, the Giants were doing nothing against him, and it looked like he was going to close out an easy complete game win. But in the final inning he walked Omar Vizquel and Bonds, and then Alou came up and absolutely smoked a first pitch hanger over the wall for a three-run homer.

I was in my school library doing homework when this happened, and I could only keep up with the game using MLB Gameday. When the browser refreshed and I saw Alou's blast I nearly exploded. Seriously, it took all my might to keep from shouting "Take that, you fat sack of crap!" in the middle of the computer lab. All the years of pent up frustration since Livan's unfortunate appearance on the pitching mound in Game 7 were released with that home run. It felt so good to see that portly bastard sulking on the mound as Alou rounded the bases.

This was also the game that Todd Linden lost and won on the same play. In the bottom of the ninth, Armando Benitez did his best to negate Alou's emotional home run by loading the bases with two outs. With the bags drunk, Brad Wilkerson sent a scorching liner to left field. Now, the ball was smoked, but it normally would have been a routine play for just about any half-way competent fielder.

But oh no, not for Todd Linden. Linden first broke in on the ball, then scrambled madly backward before making an amazing, awkward sprawling catch of the ball. If the ball gets by him, it's game over. The catch was awesome, but it shouldn't have even been a tough play in the first place. Typical Giants 2005 stuff.

-Random Stankeye Stuff

-If you haven't signed this petition to change the name of the Giants ballpark from the depressingly corporate AT&T Park (or whatever) to the much more pleasing Mays Field, do it now. As Dave Matthews said, to change the world, start with one step.

-I don't for the life of me know what this awful show is still doing on the air. Maybe it's a conspiracy by FOX to drive me completely insane, or maybe it's a sign that our civilization is in rapid decline. I mean, it's not totally implausible that mediocrity of Rapaport proportions brought down the Roman Empire. Maybe that flood Tool was talking about will wash Hollywood away after all.

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