gif: jason giambi

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The top ten plays of August 2011, as ranked by MLB Network.

(Jason) Giambi remained a productive regular through age 37, well into the drug-testing era. Unlike others from his heyday, he was spared much of the wrath of fans because he was truthful before the Balco grand jury in December 2003. That, of course, was merely his civic duty. But against the backdrop of others who dodged and weaved, Giambi stood out.

“I made the greatest choice ever,” he said. “If you look at how everything’s transpired, my whole thing was over the day I went in front of the grand jury and told the truth. The freeing part, actually, was when my grand jury testimony got leaked. That skeleton in the closet was no longer just waiting to come out.”

With his words laid bare in The San Francisco Chronicle, Giambi could apologize without specifying his transgressions. But everybody knew, and he signed lots of autographs and never chafed at follow-up questions. He was comeback player of the year in 2005, and three years later, in his final season in New York, the Yankees held a giveaway mustache day in his honor. Mike Mussina wore one in the dugout.

Going from scorned to celebrated is one thing. But becoming so respected that he would be a serious managerial candidate, even before retirement, may be Giambi’s most remarkable act.

“The fact that he got interviewed, coming right off the field, speaks volumes,” (Cleveland manager Terry) Francona said. “I think he’d be great.”

Few could match Giambi’s experiences. He has played in the World Series and finished in last place. He has been an M.V.P. and a bench guy, a wild man and a family man, a cheater and a truth-teller. He remains eager to share it all.

“I’ve got a whole dossier of things to do and things not to do,” Giambi said. “I tell people, I’ve lived lifetimes already.”

Jason Giambi refuses to field whenever Mercury is in retrograde. Giambi, a scorpio, believes that Mercury likes to ponder life’s deepest mysteries in this sign.

“It’s a time that lends itself to research of a scientific as well as mystical nature. In a retrograde period this tendency is intensified, and I just can’t play first base under those conditions. It’s one thing to go out there and hit a dinger out of the park, but to field? That would be irresponsible,” Giambi says.

Instead he just sits in the clubhouse and eats cheeseburgers.

Jason Giambi’s Ageless Walk-off Home Run

I’m not sure what it is about age. Where once Jason Giambi was the thick, lumbering, lizard-eyed monster who popped PEDs and home runs in equal measure, he’s now become the thick, wise, boy-in-a-lumberjack’s body that everyone can love. 

Any of the ill well one may have wished upon him has dried up as his hair has turned gray, and his thick, muscular body, while still thick and muscular, is now proportioned ever so differently. Slightly puffier, you could say. 

Maybe it was New York. Maybe it was the early 2000s when we all got together and made Nickelback the #1 rock band in the country.  (America, what were you doing?) Maybe it was the success that made Giambi such a target, being much easier to hate someone who hits 40 home runs in a year than when they hit 10. 

Whatever it is, that’s all gone now. Because when Jason Giambi hit a two-run walk off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning against an Addison Reed slider that was darting down and in, there was nothing but joy in my heart.

The man who was nearly managing the Rockies this year, broke his own record for oldest player to hit a walk-off home run and the Indians protected their one game lead for the second Wild Card position. 

Check out the video below and remember to give thanks that late September baseball is a thing: