You know, as a Giants fan, that when Trevor Hoffman enters the game with a lead in the ninth, it’s all over, right? That’s how it’s supposed to be (if you’re a Padres fan, and if you are, shame on you). A closer should bury the opposition.
Now let’s go back to September 24, 1993. Hoffman wasn’t quite the closer yet, but obviously he was a force—a force that threw really hard. Robby Thompson found that out when a Hoffman fastball shattered his cheekbone, effectively ending his season. Indeed, that one pitch may have prevented the Giants from winning the division that year. And maybe the next three years, in that Thompson was never the same hitter. Not even close. On “The Bob Brenly Show” that night, Brenly, then a Giants coach, and an angry one, said, “And Mr. Trevor Hoffman, that son of a bitch, he’ll get his”—effectively ending “The Bob Brenly Show."
Longtime Giants fans, and even some short-timers, remember all this. Whenever Hoffman takes the mound against the Giants, my thoughts are always along the lines of, “C’mon, let’s get him back already.” Granted, beating him once wouldn’t come close to making up for the Thompson beaning (which, I’m sure, was absolutely unintentional). Ditto beating him twice. In fact, I had figured that since September 24, 1993, the Giants hadn’t beaten Hoffman more than three times—and in saying “beaten” I’m referring not only to games in which Hoffman himself gets the loss, but also those in which he blows a save, regardless of the outcome.
So I decided to see exactly how close my guess was to the truth. And you know what? It’s not that far off. Sadly. My data came from a number of sources, so I’m not sure how reliable it is—for instance, once I looked at the log I had compiled for all of Hoffman’s appearances against the Giants, I noticed that—according to the data—he never struck out a single Giant until 2002. Something tells me that could be untrue.
Know how many times the Giants have beaten Hoffman? Eight. Seriously. In all those years. He’s 4-4 lifetime against them, with six blown saves, two of which resulted in Hoffman actually losing a game. (Thankfully, none of them—according to the data—resulted in the Padres winning anyway.)
You’d think the Giants could get to him at least once a year, wouldn’t you? Especially now that the face each other 19 times, and you know Hoffman’s going to enter one or two games a series. But no. Eight times, since that one awful day. (Oddly, that day they beat him.) That’s versus 45 saves.
I can think of only two scenarios in which the Giants could avenge Thompson: last day of the season, Giants and Padres tied for the division lead, Hoffman comes in and blows a three-run lead (or more) in the final inning; or it’s the final game of the NLCS, and more or less the same thing happens. Short of that, the only form of Robby’s Revenge that we can hope for might be crippling diarrhea.