Thursday, February 02, 2006
You Were One of the Good Ones, Man
Snow was a good Giant for nine seasons, and while his 2001-2005 years were marked by a ton of fan and media derision, he seemingly couldn't help but come up with a big play when he needed it. In the first half of 2001 he stopped hitting and fans began screaming for his head. In a panic, Brian Sabean acquired Andres Galarraga to take over first base for Snow. With flame lit firmly underneath ass, Snow turned it on in the second half and hit .306 as the Giants narrowly missed the playoffs.
In 2002, Snow had a miserable season, hitting just 6 (!) home runs, and once again fans wanted his head as the Giants moved into the postseason. But once again, Snow saved his best for last and had a smoking hot postseason, including an amazing .407/.448/.556 in the World Series. Oh, and he also saved Darren Baker from being bulldozed by David Bell.
After a decent 2003 season Snow, in an impressive display of loyalty, took a drastic pay cut to stay with the Giants in 2004. He rewarded the Giants' trust by absolutely demolishing NL pitching in the second half, tossing up a mind-blowing 1.142 OPS after the All-Star Break. Of course, the alien that was inhabiting Snow's body for that half-season soon left to explore different galaxies, and Snow's production tanked in 2005.
Amidst his up-and-down final years as a Giant, few forget the terrific seasons he put up with the team from 1997-2000, when he was one of their better run producers. In 1997, his best year, he hit .281/.387/.510 to help lead the Giants to the division crown. And that glove. Oh man, that sweet glove. Whether scooping up errant throws in the dirt, or making amazing catches while falling on his butt on Angel Stadium's crap warning tracks...
...Snow had no peers with the leather. While the cliche "he saved games with his glove" is overused dreck, I do remember several instances where Snow got the Giants out of jams with amazing, acrobatic snags of scorching liners at first.
I remember a game I went to in 1998, where the Giants were facing the Reds. The Giants had loaded the bases with nobody out, but Reds starter Steve Parris proceeded to bum the crowd out by striking out Jeff Kent and Joe Carter, putting Cincy on the brink of getting out of the inning. But then Snow came up and smashed a grand slam over the right field fence, and the Candlestick crowd went into a frenzy, demanding a curtain call with chants of "J.T.! J.T.!" It's certainly one of my fonder Giants moments.
And, of course, no Giants fan will ever forget his game-tying home run off of Armando Benitez in Game 2 of the 2000 ALDS. Behind the various heroics in 2002, that moment ranks as one of the most scintillating in Giants history.
This post is now wandering dangerously close to man-crush territory, so I'll end it here by saying that Snow was one my favorite Giants, along with Bill Mueller and Rich Aurilia. No matter what he does in another uniform, he'll always be a Giant. We'll miss ya, buddy!