Today, the San Francisco Giants play the Pittsburgh Pirates in, for all intents and purposes, the 163rd game of the season, a game we were once denied.

After playing their 161st game on October 2, 1993, the Giants and the Atlanta Braves boasted identical, incredible records of 103-58. If both teams won or lost their final games, the two teams were set to play a one-game playoff — a 163rd game. The Braves went first, playing the Colorado Rockies. The Braves won. An hour later, the Giants game would begin. And, of course, it had to be against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Bums.

Salomon Torres. That name haunted my adolescence. Salomon Torres, the Giants pitcher who took the mound that day and became the destroyer of dreams. I've muttered that name countless times with a bowed head, shaking in disbelief. 12-1. That was the final score. The Bums, 12. The Giants, 1. On the 162nd game of the season, the Giants lost their chance at the 163rd.

It's a funny thing how time has a way of hiding the truth while whispering pretty lies. I could have sworn Torres gave up 17 runs that day. I was certain it all happened in the 1st inning. It turns Torres didn't give up a run until the 3rd. By the time he was yanked in the 4th, he only allowed the Bums to score three runs. Huh.

Dave Burba came on and gave up four runs and then Dave Righetti gave up four more. Rags gave up four in that game?! Weird.

There was a very tenuous, tortured Pittsburgh Pirates connection to that game. 1993 was the first season of the Barry Bonds era in San Francisco. It was also the first season of the post-Barry Bonds era in Pittsburgh. While in Pittsburgh, Barry took the Pirates to the post-season in 1990, '91, and '92. When Barry left the Bucs, he took with them any and all hope for the playoffs for the next two decades.

A lot of things have happened for both the Giants and the Pirates since 1993. Mostly good, great, fantastic for the Giants, mostly bad, awful, depressing for the Bucs, but here we are. We're both Barry-less now, but between the two of us, we have the last two NL MVP's in their Andrew McCutchen and our Buster Posey. Gone are Candlestick and Three Rivers, and now we play in the two most postcard-perfect parks in the Majors. And though neither team will be counted as the strongest squad in a post-season stacked with the Nats and the Cards and the Bums, either team could take this post-season and drive it like we stole it.

So this is it. The 163rd game of the season. It's not the regular season, it's not quite the true post-season, but this is what you get when you stumble through the finish line like a drunk, unregistered Bay to Breakerser. You have to condense six-months of baseball into a single, solitary, loser-goes-home game where anything can happen--ask the A's, they know.

Except we know what will happen: The Giants will win. Why? Madison Bumgarner, that's why. Mad Bum. Big Country. He will pitch to Buster Posey — catcher, first-baseman, Captain America. Do I love the South? I love the South. God Bless the South.

Then the Giants will beat the Nats. Then the Giants will beat the Bums. Then the Giants will beat the Halos in six games as it always should have been.

But first, the Giants will beat the Bucs.


Tonight's game will be played in Pittsburgh. First pitch will be at 5:07 p.m., our time. AT&T Park will be open at 4 p.m. for a rally and will show the game on the jumbotron. Let's go Giants!