Special Giants World Series Championship Edition: A Fan’s Reflection

San Francisco Giants 2010 World ChampionsFor those who know me or if you happened to follow my four-year tenure at the Gazette, you know very well that I am a lifelong, fervent Giants fan. I even published a book celebrating their 50-year anniversary in San Francisco in 2007 – “Fifty Years by the Bay.”

With that, a minor theme of that book was the lack of any World Series title to show for the club’s half-century in the Bay Area. As a fan, you turn to those magical moments that are the payback for the investment.

As fans, we invest time, money and emotion. Some invest more that others and for varying amounts of times and to varying degrees. Giant’s fans had the added burden of watching the team play in that icebox known as Candlestick Park for 40 seasons. Frostbite was always a lingering possibility.

However, we found a way. We held faith that the new tide of prospects and emerging stars would vault the team to contender status and then hoped. We looked at the past and we looked to the future. Although the real truth was sometimes hard to swallow, we still believed.

That’s what sports teaches us as a society. It really does mirror our culture. As America is the land of anything possible, so is the field of sport. You can go back into sports history in the last century and cite many examples of teams (and individuals to an extent) who have defied the odds and succeeded to the ultimate prize in that discipline.

Being spoiled with the Giants Hall-of-Famers in the 1960s and the young guns of the late 1980 and early 1990s, there were expectations which arose. There were times when we expected our team to win. They were supposed to win. They should have won.

Flash forward to the 2010 version of the Giants. Did we have expectations? Was this team on the field going to bring San Francisco their first-ever World Series crown? It didn’t seem likely.

After the team made a significant push to win it all in 2002, coming within nine outs then, the clock was ticking. Bonds, Aurilia, and Kent were aging. Nen was done. So what next? We experienced the biggest scandal in baseball history. Bonds rode off into the sunset and we all wondered.

Management was criticized for not drafting a talented enough position player who could have impact since Matt Williams. There was a bevy of high school pitchers in the fold. The team would sign and overpay many players who had seen the better side of their career in younger days. The time looked bleak.

At that time, I toyed with the idea of writing another book about the demise of the franchise. I felt that since ownership rode Bonds and the turn styles as far as they could and not invested properly that the team was destined for years toiling in the basement of the National League West standings. That was in the fall of 2007.

The 2008 season saw the rough times emerging when the team posted a record of 72-90. In 2009, the club turned it all around somewhat when they were able to cash-in with an 88 game win mark. However, better that was, it didn’t really set the tone for 2010.

The intangible in all this was the stellar pitching which management had scouted, signed, developed and stockpiled. And as any baseball fan will tell you: “Pitching wins games. Good pitching beats good hitting.”

But the team which took the field to start 2010 didn’t look like they would score enough runs to win ball games no matter how good the pitching was. We had seen Matt Cain and Barry Zito suffer through starting assignments the last several seasons only to lose because of the lack of support. The offensive capability of this year’s version of the team looked even bleaker.

But somehow all the pieces were in place. If they weren’t, they would be at some point before it got too dark. The pitchers did their part, except for a tough spell in August. But true championship teams are melded in September, after they are battle tested in the “dog days.”

As fans, we could not look into the hearts of this band of 25-plus players who took the field every day. They had more to give. They were a team playing the game, not just players playing.

Somehow the baseball gods looked down and could see that this group was special. They played the game correctly. They had the right attitude. They had all the clichés that you hear about these types of magical runs. It was the embodiment of the “magic.”

It is ironic that the Giants chose the theme of “There’s Magic Inside” (AT&T Park) as their marketing program this season. There truly was magic inside. The magic wasn’t always in high gear. Sometimes it was torture as broadcaster Duane Kuiper philosophized and coined sometime in the early part of the campaign.

Sometimes these types of runs are not easily explained. The national media and experts alike did not give them any chance. They didn’t care. They played and won. Now they have rings.

When Brian Wilson notched the final out in Game 5, I cried and laughed at the same time. It was a unique feeling of joy, relief and excitement. It was magic!

Final World Series Notes

  • The Giants spent just 37 days in first-place in the National League West, becoming the first team to spend so few days atop the division to win a World Series since the 1985 Kansas City Royals, who spent 30 days in first-place.
  • The Giants had seventeen runs batted-in with two outs in the five-game series. That was tied for the third-most in a single World Series. Only the 1997 Cleveland Indians (21) and 1982 Milwaukee Brewers (20) had more. Both of those teams went on to lose their World Series.
  • The Giants also became just the second team to wrap up all three post-season series on the road. The 2005 Chicago White Sox also did so. The three-round post-season format began in 1995.
  • Game 5 of this Series, played on November 1, marks the first time the Giants franchise has ever played a game in this month. It is also just the seventh game ever to be played in November in Major League history.
  • Texas, which led the Major Leagues with a .276 team batting average during the regular season, batted only .190 during the World Series. Among the 31 teams to play in the World Series after leading the Majors in batting average that season, the only others that batted under .200 in the Fall Classic were the 1948 Cleveland Indians (.199) and the 1995 Cleveland Indians (.179).
  • The Rangers had an 18-inning scoreless streak spanning Game 3 to Game 5, after their longest such drought during the regular season was 15 innings. From 1969 through 1972 three teams had longer scoring droughts in the World Series than they had during that entire regular season: the 1969 Baltimore Orioles, 1971 Orioles and 1972 Oakland Athletics. But since 1973 the only other team to do that was the 2001 New York Yankees.
  • Brian Wilson tied the record for most post-season saves (shared by several, including Marion Rivera of the New York Yankees) for a player that finished with a 0.00 ERA, with six.
  • The Giants won six games this post-season scoring three runs or fewer. That tied the 1972 Oakland Athletics for the most wins scoring three runs-or-fewer in a single post-season.
  • Tim Lincecum won his fourth game of the post-season. He passed Christy Mathewson (1905) for the most wins by a Giants starter in a single post-season. Of course, Mathewson got all three of his wins in the World Series. Lincecum won two games in the World Series. The only other Giants starters to win two games in a World Series are Mathewson (1905), Rube Marquard (1912), Carl Hubbell (1933) and Phil Douglas (1921).
  • Matt Cain went 21 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run in the 2010 post-season. This was the third-most innings pitched in a single post-season without allowing an earned run in Major League history:
  • World Series Most Valuable Player Edgar Renteria had the game-winning RBI, a three-run home run, and became the fourth player to drive in the game-winning run in two World Series clinching games (1997 and 2010). The others all did so for the New York Yankees: Yogi Berra 1950 and 1956), Joe DiMaggio (1939 and 1949) and Lou Gehrig (1928 and 1926).

This entry was posted on Monday, November 15th, 2010 at 8:28 pm and is filed under San Francisco Giants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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