As a San Francisco Giants legend makes his way to retirement, we at Around the Foghorn would like to honor Matt Cain.
I have never known the San Francisco Giants without Matt Cain. I became a fan in 2005, at least an avid fan at that. I was a young, casual observer from the 2001 Home Run Race from Bonds. But it wasn’t until 2005 that I have any real memory of watching a lot of baseball over a year. No coincidence that 2005 was Cain’s first.
I remember in 2007, looking at Matt Cain and thinking “Wow! we might have a pitcher here.” I was also thinking the same thing about Noah Lowry. 2008 brought more of the same, but swap Lowry for Lincecum. Once we hit 2009, that combo of Cain and Lincecum brought genuine surprise when they lost a game they started.
I guess a lot of the issues for most fans surrounding Cain became the fact that he wasn’t getting wins, despite turning in good outings, and quality starts all season long.
Then came 2010. That rotation of Cain, Lincecum, Sanchez, Bumgarner was incredible. A world Series, brought to San Francisco thanks to those four, and the bullpen. But Matt Cain really didn’t get to have his coming out party though, at least on a National stage. You can save that for 2012. But what Cain was able to do beyond 2010 really separated him, in my opinion from Tim Lincecum.
Lincecum was an elite pitcher for a flash in the pan, surviving to 2014 despite not being a decent starter since the 2011 season. Cain was that guy from 2007-2013. Six incredible years. From 2007-2013, Cain went 78-75 with a 3.28 ERA, 13 Complete Games and a 1.165 WHIP.
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Cain in 2012 was the best though. He finished sixth in the NL Cy Young vote that year. Throw in the perfect game, what he did in the playoffs, Cain’s 2012 might have been just as impressive, if not more impressive than Lincecum’s 2010.
I still will never forget that perfect game though. Every time Matt Cain stepped on the hill you had that thought of “is today the day he does it?”. On June 13, 2012 I actually didn’t think that. I was too busy trying to acclimate to Chicagoland as I was hitting my freshman orientation in College. We had landed at O’Hare when the game started.
By the time we got to the hotel it was the 5th inning, and ESPN was just starting to take notice of what was going on. I had seen the score at 10-0, so I didn’t know something else was going on. The rest of that night is history. I yelled, then proceeded to get yelled at by my Mom for celebrating the Gregor Blanco catch too loud. But then what followed was just as incredible.
I re-hashed all these memories because it’s important to hold on to these, and then frankly ignore what happened the last four. Riddled by injury, it was clear he was on a downturn. It’s ok. It happens. But today is a celebration of what he did prior to those four years, and then how hard he fought to get back to being himself those four years.
Cain would never reach his 2012 form again. That’s ok. Today is about seeing a Giant great for the last time. Those at the ballpark should cherish the moment, cheer him soundly as he comes off the mound, and be his biggest support if things don’t go well. Today is about what Cain has done. So from all of us at Around the Foghorn, than you to Matt Cain, for being one of the best Giants there ever was.