Pitchers and catchers are reporting to Scottsdale, Arizona right now. THIS IS EXCITING.
To celebrate, I thought I’d share all the reasons why this video, which shows Travis Ishikawa’s game-winning, pennant-clinching home run in Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS, is literally the most awesome.
I’ve watched this video…a lot over the last four months. Maybe you have to be a Giants fan to really appreciate it, but I’d like to think any baseball fan (except, I guess, Cardinals — and probably Dodgers — fans) can get something out of it. Obviously, I love it because it captures the moment that sent the Giants to the postseason (and because that made AJ Pierzynski sad), but also:
Joe Buck’s call isn’t terrible
Joe Buck sucks. That’s just a fact of life, and yet for some reason, FOX and MLB see fit to force him on us every single postseason (and they wonder why postseason viewing numbers are down every year…) along with his cast of clowns. Every game I watched at home, I spent at least an inning or two syncing up the San Francisco radio feed, which I played through my phone, with the TV broadcast. It meant I was up to a full minute or two behind most of the game, but being able to listen to the Giants’ broadcast crew was so worth it.
(I’ll save you an explanation of why the Giants’ crew is the best in baseball. For now.)
So, obviously, I didn’t hear Joe Buck’s call at first. Actually, I didn’t hear Jon Miller’s call either because when it happened, I was busy jumping around my living room screaming like a crazy person (before rushing to La Jolla to get a copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain signed for my dad. It was a very stressful, emotional night). But when I watched this clip, I was immediately struck by how Joe Buck managed to not screw this one up.
Jon Miller’s call is incredible
Jon Miller is absolutely amazing. I would love, love, love to have him over for a dinner party. He’s been around the game for I don’t know how many years and you can hear, every day, in every game, how much he still loves it. He’s a natural storyteller with so many stories to tell.
And he’s on fire here. You have the shout-out to Bobby Thompson and “The Shot Heard Round the World,” the comment on how many runs the Giants scored with voodoo and witchcraft and NOT hitting the damn baseball — only to end it with a home run, the genuine emotion in his voice.
My favorite part, though, is the amazement and incredulity you hear at 1:25 — “It’s Travis Ishikawa!!?!?”
See, there are a few different types of professional ballplayers. There are, on one side, the natural talents — the Buster Poseys and Madison Bumgarners (you’ll forgive me for using Giants-centric examples, as those are the players I’m most familiar with). They’re the ones who get signed right out of high school or college in the first round, they shoot through the minors, they come up to the majors and make an impact and stick around for a long time. They get the mega-contracts for five, six, eight years with an absurd number of zeros. They’re the stars that GMs build teams around.
Then there are the journeymen. The Ryan Vogelsongs and Travis Ishikawas who bounce around the team to team, being happy with one- and two-year contracts that are nowhere near as lucrative (though they’re still making at least $450K a year if they stay with the big-league team for the whole season, so it’s not like they’re as hard up as minor leaguers). These are the guys who spend a few more years in the minors, spend season after season going back and forth from the big club to the minor league affiliate in Nowheresville, who maybe play in Japan or South Korea for a season or two, hoping for a chance to get a non-roster invite to a spring training camp. They contemplate retirement years before they turn 30. They contemplate retirement pretty much every year after they turn 30, wondering if the travel and time away from their families is worth spending 120 games or so sitting on the bench instead of on the field.
We found out after the season that Travis Ishikawa thought seriously about retiring in, like, August or so. He was in the minors at that point, wondering if he’d get another call-up, wondering if he’d get another contract. He did get called up — and had to play left field when Michael Morse went down with an injury. Ishikawa is a first baseman. He was not supposed to be on the roster at all, the Giants had no business being in the postseason at all, yet he was there in left field, of all places, and he got the chance to hit one of the biggest home runs in Giants’ history. (It should be noted that he’s also not a power hitter.)
This is why I love baseball. Because for every Derek Jeter, there’s a Travis Ishikawa toiling away for his one shot at greatness. For every Mike Trout, there’s a Marco Scutaro. For every Clayton Kershaw, there’s a Ryan Vogelsong.
That’s why this video is awesome.