Flash back to baseball in 2004, the last year that Giants QB Eli Manning missed a start
Nov. 21, 2004, was a long time ago. Babies born that day are officially teenagers.
When you recover from that previous sentence, read this: That's also the date of Eli Manning's first start at quarterback for the New York Giants, the first of 210 consecutive starts for Manning until this Sunday when Geno Smith gets the nod against the Raiders.
To further establish just how long ago 2004 was, here's a look at how baseball looked on that date, Nov. 21, after the MLB posteason had concluded.
The Red Sox were World Series champions, having finally beaten "The Curse."
Remember that? The last time Manning missed a start, that had just happened. It looked like this:
And it happened in large part thanks to the hustle of pinch-runner Dave Roberts, whose stolen base in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Yankees put in motion a game-tying rally, Game 4 win and, eventually, that dramatic Boston come-from-behind victory after being down 3-0 in the best-of-seven series:
Carlos Beltran was an Astros postseason hero
Few players ever provide the kind of offensive spark Carlos Beltran did for the Astros after coming over in a trade from the Royals in June 2004.
Once Houston made the postseason, Beltran made his presence felt by swatting eight home runs in October, with five of them coming in consecutive games. It was wild:
Of course, Beltran brought his career full circle with a swan song with the Astros this past season, walking off into the sunset with that previously elusive World Series ring in tow:
Bobby Crosby won the AL Rookie of the Year Award
The A's had a stud in shortstop Bobby Crosby, a product of the baseball-rich program at CSU Long Beach. Crosby hit 22 homers, drove in 64 RBIs and posted a 3.2 WAR on the campaign. He also struck a solid post-walk-off victory pose every now and then, too:
Jason Bay won the NL Rookie of the Year Award
The '04 season was a star-making run for then-25-year-old Jason Bay, who hit 26 homers, drove in 82 RBIs and slashed .282/.358/.550 for the Pirates. That season probably wasn't much of a surprise, considering he announced his arrival late in '03 with games like this:
Barry Bonds hit homer No. 700 and drew 232 walks
I'm not sure which of those two numbers is more ridiculous. Bonds, who played in 147 games for the Giants that season, clubbed 45 homers, drove in 101 RBIs and was so feared by pitchers he walked 232 times. Two. Hundred. Thirty-Two. Times. Sheesh. Oh, and he also hit No. 700 of his career, an opposite-field shot off future Giants pitcher Jake Peavy:
The Expos played their final season
Starting in 2005, they'd be known as the Washington Nationals. But '04 was the swan song for the Montreal Expos, who live on thanks to this highlight of relief pitcher Jon Rauch hitting a homer off Roger Clemens:
Roger Clemens won the NL Cy Young Award
That clip above doesn't represent Clemens' 2004 season, though, as he was dominant for the Astros all year long. He went 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA, added 218 more strikeouts to his career tally and generally shoved, start after start:
Johan Santana won the AL Cy Young Award
Over in the AL, the Twins were led by a dominant Johan Santana. A 20-6 record, 2.61 ERA and an AL-best 265 strikeouts earned him his own Cy Young Award -- the first of two he'd win in his career, a successful run that merits serious Hall of Fame discussion:
Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run for the Yankees
It all happened on April 6 against the Rays at Tropicana Field. He'd go on to hit 350 more for the Yankees in his career.
All this to say: Things were a bit different the last time the Giants played a football game without Eli Manning taking the snaps.