25 August 2009

The Revenge of Hideo

Can you imagine how much Giants fans must have wanted that game last night? Can you feel how much that loss must have hurt? That game was a Schadenfreude Symphony. That game Monday was a near must-win for the Giants. I'm sure it felt that way for most of their fans. The Giants entered the final game of the series three games back, after their excruciating come-from-ahead Lincecum-wasting loss on Sunday. If the Giants had won last night they would be two back, lose and they would be four back. That's such a huge difference. Two games back and you're still right there in it. Four games back, and ... and what?

Now let's be clear, even now when the Giants are seven games back of the Dodgers, and reeling, I don't count them out to rally and reel in the Dodgers. But let's be serious. The Giants' target right now isn't the Dodgers, it's the wild card spot, and that's held by the Rockies who are four games ahead. And even four games is a huge deficit with about six weeks of season left. You can overcome that kind of deficit but it's not easy, especially since realistically the Rockies are the better team. The three games the Giants have with the Rockies this weekend could help, but the Giants pretty much need to sweep at this point.

So four games back is a disaster, and the Giants were so close to avoiding that disaster. Even one run in the top of the fourteenth should have been enough, right, after the teams had combined for two runs through 13 innings? Instead the Giants scored three. They were going to win. The only problem? Someone switched Coors Field back on at the start of the fourteenth. The same run-scoring craziness that the Giants took advantage of in the top of the inning was also available for the Rockies in the bottom of the inning. How else can a bases loaded walk of terrible pitcher Adam Eaton be explained?

But for me it was payback. Sweet revenge, after all these years. I remember a game very similar that happened back in 1995. I remember watching highlights of that game with a Giants fan, neither of us knowing how the game had turned out. It was Hideo Nomo's first start ever in the major leagues. It was a big deal. But Hideo only went five innings, and the game went on far longer than that. No one could score through fourteen. But in the top of the fifteenth, the Dodgers scored three. A three run lead after a long scoring drought! Victory was certain. Sound familiar? I was sure that the Dodgers had won as they showed the highlights of those three runs scoring. I celebrated, not realizing the the highlight wasn't over. It wasn't over. I watched in mute horror as the highlights showed the Giants score four in the bottom of the fifteenth inning to win. Oh, the agony.

And now, finally, that loss is avenged. The revenge of Hideo Nomo, because I always think of that horrible 1995 loss as the Hideo Nomo game. It would have been better if the Dodgers had inflicted this parallel loss on the Giants, but I'll take it this way too. A game like this is more about the agony of losing than the thrill of winning.

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