Saturday, December 17, 2005

Completing the Picture

My absolute favorite picture of the Giants winning the 2002 pennant in Game 5 against St. Louis was taken from somewhere down the first base line. It shows David Bell sliding head first across the plate with the pennant winning run. Rich Aurelia, the on-deck batter, was positioned correctly as the "base coach" to direct the oncoming runner as to whether to slide, and if so, to which side of the plate. He was about five feet off the ground in mid celebration leap. The Giants players, coaches and bat boys were pouring out of the dugout to meet Bell at the plate. As a result of the throw from the outfield to the plate being wide, the Cards' catcher is face down in the dirt; a very descriptive posture. The pitcher, who backs up home on throws from the outfield, is shown behind the plate dejected and disillusioned. He is little more than an obstacle for the Giants players who are streaming by him in ecstasy.

What has brought this picture to mind more than just the memory, or its inclusion in many newspapers the following day, or the fact that I have it as a screensaver, is the Giants' subsequent acquiring of the Cards players in this picture. Before last season, the Giants acquired Mike Matheny, the Cards catcher with his face in the dirt. I thought that an interesting coincidence until last month when the Giants acquired Cards' relief pitcher Steve Kline. He's the pennant losing pitcher in the photo backing up the plate. I've given him a personal nickname, "the one pitch wonder," for throwing only one pitch in game 5, serving up the pennant losing pitch to Kenny Lofton. Upon his signing, he made a statement which I'll paraphrase as "I helped the Giants win the pennant once before, and I'm here to try it again."

I've often thought about getting all the players I can identify to autograph a copy of this picture. Upon Matheny's signing, I wondered if he would sign it, now being a Giant, but in obvious defeat in the picture. Next was Kline. Would he sign?

Now the Giants have extended things beyond the picture. Kline threw only one pitch but was one of only two Cards pitchers in that game. The other one, the one who set up the pennant clincher by giving up two two-out singles, the Giants signed last week. Matt Morris.

Pass me the Sharpie.

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