2008 was a rough year to be a Giants fan. All seemed lost.
The Giants completed their fourth-straight losing season and their fifth-straight season missing the playoffs. Barry Bonds was replaced in left field by the overpaid, feckless Dave Roberts, and after Roberts was injured, the disappointing Fred Lewis took over.
The drop-off from Bonds to Roberts-Lewis in left field was an apt metaphor for the fall that had taken place in the Giants organization since they lost Game 7 of the World Series to the Angels in 2002.
In 2009, the Giants began to turn it around, posting a winning season for the first time since 2004. That was the beginning of an ongoing run that includes three straight winning seasons, a World Series crown and a magnificent display at this year's All-Star Game.
Melky Cabrera, aka, the Melkman, delivered at the midsummer classic, winning the MVP Award. The Melkman delivered arguably the greatest performance in San Francisco Giants All-Star history that night. Let's take a look at his performance and some other great performances at the All-Star game in the Giants storied history.
Cabrera went two for three with a homerun, two runs batted in and two runs scored in the All-Star Game, en route to winning the MVP Award for the victorious National League squad. Not a bad way to return to Kansas City, the team that shipped him out of town over the winter.
Panda gets the number two spot on the list for degree of difficulty. He broke the game open with the first ever three-run triple in the history of the All-Star Game, and he did it against a wicked Justin Verlander back-foot curveball. The swing-hard-in-case-you-hit-approach of Sandoval can be hard to watch at times, but it paid huge dividends against the best pitcher in the game.
Cabrera won the MVP Award, but Sandoval has an argument that he should have won the award, because his clutch hit that drove in Cabrera and Buster Posey blew the game open in the first inning.
A bit of breaking news here: Willie Mays was good at baseball. In 1960, Mays doubled, tripled, singled and scored to lead the National League to a 5-3 win in Kansas City. As Ted Williams famously said, "They invented the All-Star Game for Willie Mays."
In the first All-Star Game ever played in San Francisco, Mays singled, doubled, drove in a run and scored twice as the National League defeated the American League 5-4.
Mays stole the show again in 1963, winning the game's MVP Award. He made a game-saving catch in the eighth inning, had the biggest hit of the game, drove in two runs and scored twice for the victorious National League squad.
Juan Marichal, another Giants Hall of Famer, won the All-Star Game MVP Award in 1965 by hurling three scoreless innings in the National League's 6-5 win over the American League.
Marichal made the All-Star team eight years in a row for the Giants from 1962-1969. In fourteen seasons with the Giants, he won 238 games and posted a miniscule 2.84 ERA.
Mays won his second All-Star Game MVP Award in 1968. He scored the lone run in the National League's 1-0 victory in the first All-Star Game ever played on turf, at the Astrodome.
Mays Hall-of-Fame teammate, Willie McCovey, drove him in by grounding into a double-play in the first inning. When I become commissioner, my first order of business will be to retroactively award McCovey with an RBI in the '68 All-Star Game.
In 21 seasons with the Giants, Mays hit .304/.385/.564 with 646 homeruns, two MVP Awards, two All-Star Game MVP Awards, 12 Gold Gloves, a Rookie of the Year Award and 19 trips to the All-Star Game.
In 19 seasons with the Giants, McCovey hit .274/.377/.524 with 469 homeruns, an MVP Award, a Rookie of the Year Award and six trips to the All-Star Game.
How many duos in the history of baseball were better than these two Giants?
Flags fly forever, and statues stand forever.
McCovey hit two big flies and drove in three runs in the 1969 All-Star Game en route the MVP Award. McCovey also won the National League MVP Award that season, hitting .320/.453/.656 with 45 homeruns and 126 RBI.
Jason Schmidt struck out three American League hitters in two scoreless inning of work in the 2003 All-Star Game. Schmidt went 17-5 with a 2.34 ERA and 208 strikeouts in 2003, while also throwing a complete game shutout in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
On July 30, 2001, Giants General Manager Brian Sabean sent top pitching prospect Ryan Vogelsong and outfielder Armando Rios to Pittsburgh in a deal for Schmidt and John Vander Wall.
In six seasons with the Giants, Schmidt went 78-37 with a 3.36 ERA, made the All-Star team three times, finished in the top five in Cy Young voting twice, averaged a strikeout an inning and pitched the Giants into the postseason twice.
Then, in 2011, Sabean re-acquired Vogelsong, who has gone 20-11 with a 2.57 ERA in his return to San Francisco.
Acquiring Schmidt for Vogelsong, then re-acquiring Vogelsong for the best seasons of his career might be the two best moves of Sabean's tenure.
With all due respect to Mays and McCovey, I saved the last spot for the greatest player to ever wear the orange and black. In fact, with all due respect to those baseball writers that aren't even going to vote to put Bonds in the Hall of Fame, Bonds is not only the greatest Giant ever, he's the greatest player ever.
In the 2002 All-Star Game, Bonds hit a two-run homer off of future Hall-of-Fame pitcher Roy Halladay. He also had one taken away in the first inning by Torii Hunter, who made a leaping grab over the fence in centerfield to take a homerun away from Bonds.
Bonds won the MVP Award in 2002, leading the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging at .370/.582/.799. He hit 46 homeruns to lead the Giants to the National League Pennant.
In the World Series, he hit .471/.700/1.294 with four homeruns in 30 plate appearances, including a homerun off of Troy Percival that still has yet to land. As of this writing, scientists are still attempting to track the trajectory of the ball, but to no avail.