The Giants win the Pennant! The Giants win the Pennant! The Giants win the Pennant! The famous line has been heard again and again in the world of sports. And after 56 years of long…VERY long waiting, it can be said again. And it wasn’t with the big names of Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, JT Snow, Willie McCovey, etc., etc. It was with guys named Renteria, Huff, Uribe, Posey and Ross. Guys called misfits, not hall of famers. Guys with blackened beards, not MVP’s.
And how fitting is it, that a team, a franchise, that has had so many of the greatest players play in the Orange and Black, win their first World Series in San Francisco with a group of guys who couldn’t even sniff those awards and accolades. True they have the two-time Cy Young winner in Tim Lincecum. But outside of him and maybe Matt Cain, there aren’t a lot of stars on this team. Take a good look at this line-up:
You got Andre Torres, a career .250 hitter who hadn’t played more than 75 games in a season until this year. He’s a world champion. You got Freddy Sanchez, who spent what felt like a lifetime of 6 years playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, before joining the Giants last year. He’s a world champion. You got Cody Ross, the No. 8 hitter in this lineup just a week ago, hitting clean-up yesterday. He’s a lifetime .265 hitter, yet in these playoffs, he was simply incredible. He’s now a world champion. I could keep going, but you get the idea.
This was a team.
Plain and simple, this was a team that played as a team. They weren’t patient, they were free-swinging. They weren’t the favorites, they were the classic underdogs. They had to fight until the final day of the regular season to even make the playoffs. They could’ve made it easier on themselves, but losing the first 2 games of the final 3 game series to the rival Padres made them have to hunker down and fight for it. But they survived that final Sunday and moved on.
In the NLDS, they had the daunting task of ending the great Bobby Cox’s career. They did so in four games, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. It was one-run games the entire way. They took game one 1-0, behind stellar pitching by Tim Lincecum. They turned around the next day and lost an extra inning game in game two 5-4 (and this was at home) to give home-field advantage to Atlanta. In game three they had to face the Brave’s ace in Tim Hudson. They took it 3-2, and did the same in game four, by the same score. Winning both games in Atlanta, and the Braves had the best home record in all of baseball this year, losing just three series all year at home!
Survive and move on.
In the NLCS, the defending National League Champs were waiting for them in Philadelphia. The Phillies had an up-and-down year, even flirting with a .500 record in June before storming back and finishing with the best record in all of baseball. And they just finished dismantling the NL Central-winning Cincinnati Reds, three games to none. The Giants didn’t even flinch as they stole game one in Philly, 4-3. Taking it to Roy Halladay who, just a week earlier, threw the second no-hitter in the history of the MLB playoffs. The fightin-Phils stormed back in game two and routed the Giants 6-1. But San Fran did their job and stole home-field advantage. In game three Matt Cain, who was an average pitcher at best this year, shut down the Phillies’ batter-heavy offense and the Giants got enough of Cole Hamels to take it 3-0.
Game four was the turning point in this series. A fantastic game that saw both Madison Bumgarner and Joe Blanton getting knocked out in the 5th inning and saw the teams tied at 5 heading into the 9th. The Giants gambled by bringing in their closer in Brian Wilson. And it paid off big time. He threw 12 pitches, eight of them for strikes, and got out of the inning with the game still tied. And in the bottom of the 9th, the Phillies played a little game of their own by throwing Roy Oswalt on the mound. Three batters later, Juan Uribe hits a sacrifice fly with men on the corners, brings home Aubrey Huff, and the Giants have a 3-1 lead thanks to a 6-5 win.
Halladay would get revenge on Lincecum the next day as the Phillies send it back to the City of Brotherly Love with a 4-2 victory. But two days later, game six of the NLCS, the Giants would overcome adversity once again. The Phils struck early, scoring two runs in the first. But the Giants didn’t crack, didn’t crumble and didn’t fall apart. They bounced back in the third with two runs of their own and the score stayed tied at 2 all the way to the 8th inning, when Juan Uribe steps up again. This time there would be no sacrifice, just a ball that didn’t land until it was safely out of the ballpark. Giants lead 3-2, and that’s the way it would stay as San Francisco knocks off the two-time defending NL Champs and were heading to their first World Series since 2002.
Survive and move on.
Now came all the talk. How would San Fran overcome the seemingly perfect Cliff Lee? How would the stagnant offense keep up with the Texas Rangers, which blasted the Tampa Bay Rays and the defending World Champion New York Yankees? And, they would have to do it against a man who knew their staff inside and out in their former teammate, catcher Bengie Molina.
Well, you found out in game one. The Giants would once again have to overcome adversity as they fell behind 2-0 after two innings of play. But in the third they came right back with two runs of their own to tie the ballgame, and then in the 5th inning, they would bust the game wide open. Andres Torres hits a 1-out double. Freddy Sanchez follows suit with one of his own, 3-2 Giants. Buster Posey struck out for the 2nd out and it looked like the Rangers would get out of it with just the one run allowed. But then Pat Burrell drew a walk, Cody Ross singled in Sanchez, Huff singled in Burrell, and then, who else, but Juan Uribe would send the ball into McCovey Cove and turn this game from a tense one into a laugher. 8-2 Giants after the 5th inning. They would go on to win game one 11-7! 11 runs on 14 hits for a ballclub that isn’t exactly known for offense. But that was nothing compared to what was about to come…
In game two Matt Cain continued his playoff dominance, rockin-and-rollin the Rangers all night. And after 7 2/3rd innings of 4-hit, shutout baseball, he only had a 2-0 lead. And the Giants were doing nothing to add on as both Torres and Sanchez struck out swinging for the first two outs in the 8th inning. But that’s when the party really started. Posey singled to start the rally, which was gifted to the Giants thanks to 3 straight walks to load the bases and give them an extra run. Then Uribe walked to make it four straight and another run to make it 4-0 San Fran. Then Edgar Renteria hits a 2-run single to make it 6-0. Followed by a 2-run triple by Aaron Rowand to make it 8-0 and then an RBI double by Torres (who started the inning with a strikeout) to finish up a ridiculous 7-run, 2-out rally that put the game completely out of reach. Giants win 9-0 and score 20 runs in the first two games of the World Series to take a 2-0 lead heading to Texas.
So the new questions became, where was that vaunted Rangers offense we were hearing about? What happened to Cliff Lee and CJ Wilson, and how have the Giants just completely eliminated the Rangers staff? Well the Rangers would respond back at home as they hosted their first World Series game in franchise history. And behind the pitching of Colby Lewis and the homeruns of Mitch Moreland and Josh Hamilton, the Rangers would get on the board with a 4-2 victory.
But that’s all they would get, because the next night, the night of Halloween, a night where Orange Pumpkins and Black Bats rule the night, the Orange and Black of the San Francisco Giants ruled the night. Madison Bumgarner was masterful, throwing 8 innings of 3-hit shutout baseball and becoming the youngest left-hander ever to throw at least 8 innings of shutout baseball in the World Series. And when the smoke settled, the Giants were one win away from their first title with a 4-0 victory. Oh and let’s not forget the 2-run shot by Aubrey Huff and solo shot by the rookie, Buster Posey.
So, last night, game five of the World Series was once again the stage for Cliff Lee versus Tim Lincecum. The Freak had promised his teammates he would be better, and oh was he better. In fact, both Lincecum and Lee were tremendous through 6 innings. Neither of them would budge as the game was scoreless. But in the 7th Lee cracked, just a little. Cody Ross, the surprise of the playoffs, who was batting clean-up in this game, instead of his usual 7th or 8th, smacked a single to start the inning. Then Uribe singled as well to put men on 1st and 2nd. That brings up Huff who HAS NEVER BUNTED IN HIS ENTIRE LIFE, yet in this game, in this situation, had the smarts even before the call was made, to bunt his men over, which he did perfectly. So, men at 2nd and 3rd and one out and up comes Pat Burrell who had a batting average of .000 in the series and he does what he did all of this series… nothing. He struck out to make it two away. But that brought up Edgar Renteria. Remember, men are at 2nd and 3rd, so a base is open and Renteria is a much better hitter than Aaron Rowand who was to follow.
So you would think the obvious thing to do is walk Renteria, right? Well, not when your name is Cliff Lee and you can strike out the entire Yankee’s lineup! Except, his first two pitches are balls, so it’s a 2-0 count. Why not just walk him now? Nope, he’s still Cliff Lee… he can strike out anybody, right?
WRONG. There’s your ballgame. Giants hold on and win the game 3-1. They win the series 4-1. And for the first time since 1954, the world got to hear.
Since the series is finally over I’ve gotten to speak to a good friend of mine from college. He is from the Bay Area and has been a San Francisco Giants fan since he was four years old. And more than that, he has been an employee of the Giants since 2004. His title is Director of Special Events and yes he will be receiving a championship ring. So I asked him what does this mean to him as a fan and as an employee of the now World Champion San Francisco Giants. My friend, Faham Zakariaei had this to say:
“As a fan it means everything. We made it in ‘89 and again in ‘02… falling short both times. For such a storied franchise, we had never won a title in San Francisco. That monkey is now off our back. As an employee, it puts all the hard work, long work days and sacrifices into perspective. MOST IMPORTANTLY it is special because it is the ultimate prize for our fans and those who support out team year round. This is for the city and our fans!”
So for the one’s who came so close and missed. For the one’s who did everything in their career in San Francisco, except bring home the circle of flags, and most importantly for the one’s still rocking the fake beard and the Orange and Black, this title is for you San Francisco. Enjoy it, you’ve waited 56 long years to win it again. I’ll say it one more time for you. THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS ARE THE 2010 WORLD CHAMPIONS OF BASEBALL!!!