Don't get me wrong—I'd just as soon perfect games weren't reduced to associating with internet memes, but this is 2012, and there's no way around it: Matt Cain, to a certain crowd of Viva El Birdos-based St. Louis Cardinals fans, is an internet meme first and a pitcher second. All because, once upon a time, someone had heard that the San Francisco Giants needed a left-handed-hitting first baseman.â†µ
So far as I can tell, this article by founder lboros is the first instance of the meme—and a straight-faced one, at that. Back in 2007 Matt Cain was coming off a 7-16 season, and Brian Sabean was in the midst of a career that suggested he paid attention to that sort of thing. Just 22, he'd shown himself to have a lot of potential but he hadn't become irreplaceable. Chris Duncan, meanwhile, hadn't lost his career to injuries—he was coming off a .259/.354/.480 season, and just one year removed from those 90 games in 2006 in which he'd slugged almost .600. With, as lboros suggests, someone like Anthony Reyes, it might have been a legitimate package.
By 2008 lboros was still interested, but Duncan's fall meant that Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel became the major chits—and a left-handed, power-hitting first baseman that the Giants just had to have was already a meme. Ever since that's been the default suggestion for an over-optimistic trade proposal—the Tigers are sure to give up Austin Jackson, definitely. They could use a left-handed power-hitting first baseman, I hear.â†µ