With tensions high after a bench clearing brawl with men on first and second, Affeldt shut down Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino, leading the Giants to their first World Series in decades.
With Game 4 of the 2012 World Series tied 3-3 in the eighth — with a potential sweep hanging in the balance — Affeldt struck out the heart of the Tigers’ lineup; he surrendered a leadoff walk to Avisail Garcia before retiring Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young. The tie held up to the 10th until Marco Scutaro‘s game-winning RBI double.
Neither moment could compare to Game 7 of the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals. Affeldt came in to relieve Tim Hudson, who sputtered not two innings in, and dealt 2-1/3 innings before Madison Bumgarner sauntered in to chisel his name in history.
A somewhat underrated postseason hero — his 0.86 postseason ERA puts him third behind Mariano Rivera and Harry Brecheen all-time — Affeldt announced his retirement on Thursday, ending a 14-year career.
It was a decision he kind of made after that fateful Game 7. The Royals had drafted him, traded him, made him grow stronger:
“I came up with those guys and learned a lot about how to be a Major League athlete and I also learned how to fail more than succeed there because when I was there we did a lot…I remember literally walking out of that city feeling like a complete loser like I don’t deserve to be in the Major Leagues. I don’t know what it’s like to win and I don’t even know why I’m being a Major League baseball player.”
Affeldt came full circle that October day:
“I think that’s part of what started this door opening, me leaving, was I don’t know what else I could possibly do and I don’t know what else I could possibly be a part of to say that I didn’t come full circle. When I could go back on the field where I made my first pitch ever in the Major Leagues on, to leave and walk out as a World Champion. Honestly, if I didn’t have a contract this year to still play, I might’ve retired last year because it woulda been a perfect ending to a story.”
It wasn’t all triumph that dictated his decision to hang up his glove. He missed his three sons, who would call some days and ask their dad to come home. For Affeldt, leaving baseball means more time with his wife and kids:
“To be able to not give 100 percent affected me. There were times when I was home, I was not present, I was on the field. and my sons and my bride felt that. And there were times that I was on the field that I wanted to be home. I think it would be unfair to my teammates and to baseball in general to continue to go out there, I don’t feel like I could give 100 percent.”
There’s no doubt Affeldt will be missed around the Giants clubhouse. He was the jokester. The spokesman and perennial gimp; he’s sustained some weird injuries through his seven years with the Giants. He busted his knee getting of a water floatie in the lake and sliced his hand while cutting frozen hamburger patties.
He founded the charity Generation Alive with his wife, Larisa, and was an active voice during Bryan Stowe’s recovery. He molded to San Francisco, much to his own surprise:
“I walked into this city having a lot of judgments against this city and I leave this city with a tremendous love for them.”
Matt Cain, Buster Posey and the “Core Four,” Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, were like brothers. Affeldt teared up while speaking about Cain, who was watching Affeldt’s press conference from the back of the room:
“I’m a relational guy, and most of the people here know me. I really, I’m a relation person. The friends that I’ve made are the men that I’ve gotten to know in this game.”
Affeldt said he won’t miss baseball much, but he’ll miss this home:
“I’ve been a part of four teams, but if you ask me who I am as a baseball player I’m a San Francisco Giant. That will never change.”