Oct 4, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt (41) makes a retirement speech before the game against the Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
The San Francisco Giants played the last game of the season Sunday. The funny thing was, the game played out kind of like the entire season played out. Moments of brilliance, moments that were not so brilliant. And although they gave it everything they could, right up to the end, they came up short.
The game started late, however, because we celebrated Jeremy Affeldt’s retirement before the game. It was an emotional send-off for one of the pitchers known as the “Core Four.” The Core Four is a group of four pitchers that have been the backbone of the bullpen since Javier Lopez arrived after being traded from Pittsburgh on August 1, 2010. The four are: Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javey and Sergio Romo. Affeldt and Javey are the lefty specialists, while Casilla and Romo trade set-up and closing
Jeremy gave a wonderful, heart-felt speech that expressed his sincere appreciation for the coaches, players, his family and the fans. He said: “they say there’s no crying in baseball, but I’m going to tell you right now, I’m a human being and I’m probably going to cry…” He did.
He appreciated the fact that the ceremony took place when the Giants were playing the Rockies. The first time he went to the World Series Jeremy went with Colorado, and he expressed his appreciation for them coming to the ceremony “although some of you were probably told you had to…”
As he wrapped up his speech, he thanked his family and he told a story about his father. When Jeremy was about twelve years old, his dad took him to a game at the Oakland Coliseum, and he turned to his dad and said: “Dad, I’m gonna play here one day.” And his dad patted him on the head and said, “go for it, kid.” As he told these stories about his family, he started to choke up a little. His dad stood up, and in front of all those fans and players, he walked right up to Jeremy and wrapped his arms around his son. One of the most touching moments on a baseball field that I’ve ever seen.
When he talked about manager Bruce Bochy he said, one thing he’s learned along the way: “you manage things and you lead people…you’re one of the greatest leaders of men that I’ve ever met.” He talked about how much his teammates mean to him, and he said “I believe that there are friends that are closer than brothers and I’ve got two‒Matt Cain and Buster Posey.”
To his bride he said “man, girl I love you.” He said that he’s been receiving congrats and pats on the back for his career. But, he said “I stand boldly here before all these men and all these people here today and I will tell you this: it’s not my career, it’s our career…I can’t thank you enough for being who you’ve been to me and the strength that I’ve needed.” And then he told his boys “daddy’s coming home.”
He wrapped it up with a word for the fans‒”you and the city have truly changed me…I’m going to return home to Spokane, but I promise you that I’m never gonna leave this city. Thank you San Francisco, I appreciate you all. Thank you” Somebody want to call Mayor Lee to make sure Jeremy gets a key?
I wish I could say that the day ended there‒with bittersweet tears for the next chapter in Jeremy’s life. But we had a ball game to play. We maybe should have skipped it.