October 10, 2010
This was the Brooks Conrad Game. The one where a Braves second baseman made three big errors, tying a postseason record and changing the momentum of a series.
Never mind the terrific starts from Jonathan Sanchez(notes) and Tim Hudson(notes) in the Giants' wild 3-2 victory in Game 3 of the NLDS. Forget about Eric Hinske(notes) stroking an electrifying go-ahead eighth-inning homer over the right-field wall. Erase the memory of Aubrey Huff(notes) rally thonging his way to a tie game in the top of the ninth.
No, there's no room for any of those highlights on the limited reel of defining moments because when the game is decided on a hard grounder that finds its way through an infielder's legs, that highlight will almost always win out.
And when that infielder also boots a possible double-play ball in the first and allows Mike Fontenot(notes) to score from third when he drops a pop fly in the second? Well, that's a dead guarantee that he's going to end up in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Because two-thirds of the Giants runs can be attributed to Conrad's miscues, the baseball world is busy making introductions.
Scape, meet goat.
"I feel absolutely terrible right now," Conrad said after letting Buster Posey's(notes) grounder through his leg and allowing Freddy Sanchez(notes) to come home with the ultimate winning run. "I wish I could just dig a hole and sleep in there."
Conrad is definitely shouldering a heavy burden, but anyone with a heart — or anyone without money on the Braves — has to feel for Conrad right now. If he makes either grab that led to a San Francisco run, Atlanta might either still be playing in extra innings or holding a 2-1 series lead. At the very least, he's definitely not the subject of this post.
He also deserves to be a sympathetic figure because he's far from the only one responsible for Hinske's homer not serving as the night's main highlight. If Martin Prado(notes) or Chipper Jones(notes) don't get hurt during the season, Conrad isn't playing like a fish out of water at second. If the Braves don't non-tender Kelly Johnson(notes) last offseason, the same probably holds true. Conrad is either a role-playing bat on the bench, or not even on the team at all.
As for this Game 3, Conrad wasn't the only one hitter in the lineup who let Jonathan Sanchez give up no hits through seven innings to anyone not named Tim Hudson. Conrad also didn't give up an egregious one-out walk to Travis Ishikawa(notes) in the ninth (Craig Kimbrel(notes)) and he didn't surrender a game-tying single to Huff with two outs and a series lead just on the other side (Mike Dunn(notes)).
But Conrad did have the misfortune of being the round peg that Bobby Cox had to jam in a square hole out of necessity. He's just a 30-year-old journeyman — a few pegs above a career minor leaguer, really — who was started at a position he had played at the major league level only 11 other times in his big league career. He went into the game as something of a late-inning folk hero for a playoff team and came out a blooper reel for the ages.
He's a man on an island in the photo below, but he didn't get there himself.