Pantheon of Love 

No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. I mean this as a principle of æsthetic, not merely historical, criticism. The necessity that he shall conform, that he shall cohere, is not one-sided; what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it. The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them. The existing order is complete before the new work arrives; for order to persist after the supervention of novelty, the whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered; and so the relations, proportions, values of each work of art toward the whole are readjusted; and this is conformity between the old and the new.

- T.S. Eliot, "Tradition and the Individual Talent"

I left the ballyard Tuesday night giddy. On the portwalk I called El Papa Malo, who gets so nervous in tight spots he turns the TV off. Sure enough, he watched the Marlins put runners on first and second against Schmidt, and he couldn't take any more.

"I knew it," I said. "I knew you weren't watching."

"So what happened? Who won?"

"I'm sorry, I can't tell you. You'll have to listen to my play-by-play."

So I got to do my own 9th-inning recap, not quite pitch by pitch, but enough to make my dad sweat it out. "Two-two pitch to Cabrera...fastball...fouled off!"

"Come on! Just tell me!"

By the time I got to "3-2 pitch to Hermida..." I was in full broadcast mode. "The set. The pitch. Change-up...struck him out swinging!"

I've been privileged to see many great Giants moments in person. Jason Schmidt's 16 strikeout game now enters my personal pantheon.

A few others, in no particular order:

* The Benito Santiago home run in game 4 of the 2002 NLCS against the Cardinals. It soared over my head. But the best part of the evening was the ride home on the N-Judah. Someone had a boom box with the post-game highlight show. When Duane Kuiper made his call, "Santiago hits it high!...He hits it deep!" the entire train car roared in unison, "He hits it OUTTA HERE!"

* The Brian Johnson home run game. Even Dodgers fans can agree -- one of the best games ever. I was away in college when the Loma Prieta earthquake shook the 'Stick, but on September 18, 1997, the upper deck felt like a 7.0 was rolling through.

* Barry Bonds's birthday bash. He throws out the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth, then on the first pitch of the bottom of the inning, knocks one over the center field fence to win the game. Un-believable.

* 10th straight win. In 1982 the Giants went on an improbable run under Frank Robinson, winning 10 in a row in August to climb back in the NL West race. Those were the days of Reggie Smith at first base, once the target for Candlestick-approved D batteries, now serenaded with chants of Reg-gie, Reg-gie! This was my first real taste of pennant fever.

* Barry's 71st and 72nd homers in 2001. Forever tainted by the Friday night black home jerseys and Shawn Estes coming up small in the biggest game of the year. Barry cranked two, but the Giants were eliminated from the pennant race.

* The clincher. Sept. 21, 2000. Calvin Murray eased back toward the wall, the fly ball settled into his glove, and the Giants were N.L. West champions. Sure, I'd seen them clinch before, but never in person, and never in a year as magical as 2000. The players' impromptu victory laps to slap hands with fans was unforgettable. The Giants were the obvious class of the league, and dreams of a World Series were soon to become...see next entry.

* J.T. Snow's home run off Armando Benitez. Great moment, but I'll let J.T. take it from here: "The home run doesn't mean anything now. We lost the game," Snow said. "A loss is a loss, but to go from the high we were on, that's tough. I'd trade all that excitement, that incredible high, for a win."

Obivously the pantheon is not complete.


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