San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves: Who Can Torture Fans More?
|Brooks Conrad, the Giants' MVP|
Back during the World Series run of 2002, your humble narrator essentially had a headache throughout the Fall. Clenching one's teeth during excruciating baseball games -- and unclenching them only around Thanksgiving -- can lead to discomfort. It is uncertain if the headache I am currently experiencing was derived from Friday's soul-destroying Giants loss, or yesterday's wrenching win -- handed to the team via feats of historic ineptitude. I only know two things: It hurts, and; I'm not complaining. If postseason runs result in cranial discomfort, it's a small price to pay.
Friday's loss, by the way, was one of those games that drives fans to replay the ghastly play that cost San Francisco the contest in their heads ad nauseum -- altering it with each remembrance to instead produce a Giants victory. After a while, watching the actual, unreconstructed play induces a cold sweat all over again; you'd almost convinced yourself the team pulled it out. Yes, Buster Posey grounded into a bases-loaded, extra-inning double play against a drawn-in infield and outfield. Yes, it came against a pitcher who only induces a double play once every 25 innings. And, yes, it was initiated by a man who moves as if his balls weigh 20 pounds apiece.
But Atlanta fans are likely feeling even worse about yesterday's contest, which featured a sporting phenomena we'll call the Reverse Max McGee Effect. Fans recognize McGee's name for one reason and one reason only: The otherwise obscure Green Bay wide receiver, so sure he'd play his usual tertiary role in Super Bowl I that he showed up bombed on that fateful Sunday, instead caught seven passes for 138 yards and two scores. McGee was a decent enough player -- but without this flash of brilliance, he'd only be remembered by sporting memorabilia hounds and folks living in the vicinity of Wisconsin. Instead, one game defined his career.
Enter Brooks Conrad. The journeyman second baseman booted not one, not two, but three balls yesterday -- handing the Giants the game. Barring unpleasant circumstances no Giants fan would prefer to countenance, Conrad, a 30-year-old journeyman, will be remembered largely because of his historical incompetence on Sunday.
Perhaps Conrad can look to Trey Junkin for solace. If you recognize Junkin's name at all, it's not for the 19 NFL seasons he played -- a full 281 games. You remember his signing as an emergency long-snapper by the 2002 New York Giants -- and how his grotesquely botched snap in the waning seconds of a divisional playoff game vs. the 49ers sealed a spectacular San Francisco comeback.
Should Madison Bumgarner set Atlanta down today, both squads' torture would be over for a spell. If not, it'll be Tim Lincecum being handed the ball at home for a one-game season.
Expect torture. Expect tension. Expect headaches.