October 5, 2000 — Game 2 of the National League Division Series, Pacific Bell Park
It’s a cold San Francisco night, but the excitement makes it feel like the left field bleachers are heated. As the game progressed, victory seemed less and less likely yet there was hope. After the visiting New York Mets put two more runs on the board, a comeback seemed improbable.
Improbable, not impossible.
In the bottom of the 9th, trying to overcome a 3 run deficit is difficult. In the bottom of the 9th, trying to overcome a 3 run deficit when you have Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent is a little easier. The two stars led off the inning with hits, then Ellis Burks hit a fly ball for the first out. With two on and one out, first baseman J.T. Snow came off the bench and stepped into the batter’s box.
Mets closer (and future Giant) Armando Benitez delivered the 2-1 pitch and Snow hammered the ball into the night sky. He walked down the line with his hand up, reminiscent of Carlton Fisk, and he willed the ball to stay fair and stay long. After that, it was just madness. Pac Bell erupted.
I don’t remember a lot from when I was 5 years old, but I remember that moment. I remember the crack of the bat; the sweet sound of a home run. I remember jumping up and down on the bleachers with my family and my extended family, Giants fans. I remember joy; pure, unadulterated joy. Though the Giants ended up losing the game (and eventually the series), nothing could take that feeling away. I was a fan of the team, partly because I was brought up that way, but that home run truly made me fall in love with Giants baseball.
Growing up as a third generation Giants fan, I’ve watched the team transform from an offensive juggernaut to a pitching machine. Even when times were rough, the Giants have always given me a silver lining. There were the good years with my Bonds, Kent, Rich Aurilia, and, my all-time favorite Giant, Snow. Then, there were the not-so-good years. Though the Giants struggled to put out competitive teams, they were still fun. Players like Omar Vizquel made tuning into Giants games worth it. And, of course, there was the record chasing. Regardless of what side you are on the Bonds steroid/Hall of Fame debate, you can’t deny that he put on a show (for the record, I believe he should be in the Hall. Bias is a heck of a thing).
Oct 31, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants former player Barry Bonds waves to the crowd during the World Series victory parade on Market Street. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Then, the Giants started laying down the framework for their championships. The Orange and Black brought up a promising young pitcher in Matt Cain. Then a star was born in Tim Lincecum. The Giants found themselves a catcher: Pablo Sandoval. Soon enough, the Giants were once again fighting for the postseason, coming up a little short in a 2009 season that included Randy Johnson‘s 300th win and, more importantly, our first taste of Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner.
After that, the rest is history. The Giants have gone on to win 3 of the last 5 Fall Classics in different ways yet with the same recipe: pitching, defense, and magic.
Magic seems to be a constant with the Giants. It comes in different forms; a series saving double play started by rookie Joe Panik or a Vizquel straight steal of home against the A’s, or an improbable J.T. Snow home run. Though the Giants are plenty frustrating, this team and this franchise is special. Whether you’re a 5 year old going to your first playoff game or a 70 year old watching Lou Seal play with his rings, there’s something to fall in love with. Everyone has a story of when and how they fell in love with the Giants and whether the Orange and Black are clinching championships or sinking to the bottom of the standings, that Snow homer is a perfect example and reminder of why I love the San Francisco Giants.