So many times during the game thread, posters turned to words like "goosebumps" and "chills" and "tears." The simplest way I know to describe Thursday's contest is that games like it are why we bother to follow the sport at all.
To come up so big when under so much pressure, how did he do it? Hall of Famers have taken weeks to traverse the short but oh-so-long gap between 2997 and 3002. Biggio, in staring down what you must admit is the sole rationale for his continued presence on this team and in this league, managed it in a single night.
An unbelievable performance, and worthy of a future Hall of Famer.
It's worth repeating that none of the 26 players before him ever did what Craig Biggio did tonight. Five hits in the same game in which they snared their 3000th. Biggio did it, but none of the rest of them did.
Not Ty Cobb. Not Stan Musial, not Napoleon Lajoie, not Tony Gwynn.
None but Biggio.
And there's no way to tell, but I'd wager that few of them tied the game with their 3000th, and that none of them went on to save the game again in the 11th.
Before hit # 5 came, Biggio was down to his final strike. When he put the ball in play, it looked like a groundout. For some players--even some fifteen or twenty years younger than he--it would have been. But the ball was deep in the hole, Tulowitzki had some trouble getting it out of his glove, and of course--it goes without saying--Biggio was hustling his ass off.
He'd had four previous safeties, what's one more?
Only the game.
People are gonna write things like, 'it had to end that way,' and 'there was no other ending possible,' but that's all exquisite BS. Of course it didn't have to go down the way it did. Rallies are squelched all the time, and fan favorites ground out to end it every other day. But sometimes there are little windows you're given, tiny chances to stay alive if only you grab them. The grounder to Tulowitzki was one of those windows and Biggio jumped through, like he always does, and he saved the game.
Then came some luck, how Hunter Pence had a double will remain a mystery always. And then came the only extra inning grand slam you're ever likely to see that doesn't snare its author a Game Hero award.
Sorry Carlos Lee, the award was already taken.
*The date of Cap Anson's 3000th hit is subject to some debate. This date is from Baseball Library, and there is no doubt Anson did not have 5 hits that day.