As the Giants' funk and flop of an anticlimactic baseball season ends today, the team's hard-core fans will desperately cling to a handful of warm, bright memories to help get them through the cold, dark winter ahead.
Here are three such memories from one such fan.
Angel Pagan's 10th-inning inside-the-park game-ending homer.
On May 25, with the Giants trailing the Rockies, 5-4, and a runner on second, Pagan scorched a pitch from Rafael Betancourt into AT&T Park's cavernous right-center field, also known as Triples Alley, which Pagan turned into Inside-The-Park Homer Alley.
Speeding around the bases like a man on a game-winning mission, Pagan's head-first slide across home beat the Rockies' relay throw by plenty, and the Giants had one of the more unusual, and electrifying, victories you'll ever see.
With the win, the Giants remained tied for first place in the NL West. Ah, those were the days. Pagan wouldn't play again for more than three months, thanks to a wrecked hamstring, and the Giants would proceed to descend like the iconic figure in the opening credits of Mad Men.
Tim Lincecum's 148-pitch no-hitter.
By objective standards, Lincecum had another poor season: More losses than wins, high ERA, blow-up innings subverting otherwise solid outings.
All that aside for a moment, it's nearly impossible for Giants fans to be objective when it comes to their Timmy. And if two Cy Young awards and two stellar postseason performances weren't enough, Lincecum assured his place in team history with this line against the Padres at San Diego on July 13: nine innings pitched, no runs, no hits, four walks and 13 strikeouts. Toss in a wild pitch and a hit batter, too.
But in this micro-managing era of pitch-count obsession, the stat that freakishly stands out is 148 pitches. And the image from that game that stands out is Buster Posey joyously rushing the mound as the last out was being made, bear hugging Lincecum from behind and lifting him in triumph.
Has Lincecum pitched his last game for the Giants? His legions of fans hope not. The talent, if not the consistency, still shows up, as it did in the epic no-hit performance.
Beating the Yankees in Yankee Stadium on Mariano Rivera Day.
On Sept. 22 at a packed Yankee Stadium, the game was delayed for nearly an hour as well-earned tributes poured in for the best relief pitcher in baseball history, from Metallica's live performance to salutes of respect and affection from former teammates (including ex-Cardinal Newman standout John Wetteland) to some classy gestures by the visiting team from San Francisco. The Yankees crowd, naturally, ate it up, but even Giants fans on hand appreciated the nostalgic atmosphere. As the game unfolded, with the Yankees needing a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, the crowd was amped, and Andy Pettitte flirted with a no-hitter.
It was a strange game to see in person, especially from the perspective of our group of 14 — family and friends representing three generations and divided almost equally between Giants and Yankees diehards (plus two Mets fans — go figure). The Yankees kept getting hits, but scored only once. Alex Rodriguez heard boos when he made out, cheers when he got a hit.
In between innings, more tributes to Rivera came in, via jumbo scoreboard video testimony from sources both likely and odd: Bernie Williams (roaring cheers from the crowd); Rickey Henderson (warm applause); Tom Brady (thunderous boos); Dustin Pedroia (deafening boos) David Ortiz (hateful boos); Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan (barely audible murmuring); Kate Upton (lusty ovation); Adam Sandler (hearty, sustained cheers); Mark Sanchez (again with the boos), among others.