These Aren't Your 2002 San Francisco Giants, They're Better
I’ve noticed a little extra orange and black around Los Angeles this year as Halloween and the World Series approach. And, after losing a championship to the Angels at this time in 2002, many of you Giants fans may be wondering whether you should be expecting a trick or treat from the Giants this time around.
First, please take note that this year’s incarnation of the Giants does not remotely resemble the one that was bitten by the rally monkey last time around. And that, my friends, is a good thing.
There is no denying that the 2002 Giants had star power up and down the lineup. Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent and Jason Schmidt headlined a talented group that was a bigger Bay Area attraction than the Golden Gate Bridge.
Conversely, some casual baseball fans who live outside the 415 area code might be hard-pressed to name a single player other than Tim Lincecum from the 2010 roster. But little do they know, the newly crowned NLCS champs have something that their 2002 counterparts did not – personality.
I have seen you all sporting the “Let Timmy Smoke” t-shirts, the Brian Wilson power beards and the Pablo Sandoval “Kung Fu Panda” hats. Each piece of paraphernalia is indicative of an identity that extends from the players to the fans.
And, more importantly, all of these unique personalities have congealed into a single team identity – an identity that has painted the 2010 team as a bunch of “castoffs” and “misfits,” as manager Bruce Bochy likes to call them. You have embraced this identity with your furry headwear and faux facial hair. And your team has welcomed it with open arms on the field, especially during the playoffs.
There was a time when you waved rubber chickens for similar occasions. But that was a movement made to support Bonds’ accomplishments and Bonds’ team. This year it’s about cheering for your team.
"All for one and one for all" has replaced "everyone for Bonds and Bonds for himself" in San Francisco. The combo of Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell may not be as sexy as Bonds and Kent, but at least you won’t see the former University of Miami teammates coming to blows in the dugout any time soon.
Everyone has a role on the current Giants roster. Through two rounds of the playoffs, 18 of 25 active players have been used. Within that mix, only No. 2 hitter Freddy Sanchez has batted in the same spot throughout the postseason.
And while you may yearn for a well-defined heart of the batting order like the one that featured Bonds, Kent, Rich Aurilia and J.T. Snow years ago, Bochy’s mix-and-match approach has served you just as well to this point, if not better. The shuffle has given players like Cody Ross and Juan Uribe a chance to have a significant impact in the playoffs.
Production from the bottom of the lineup is something that was missing from your 2002 bid for a championship. That year, the six through eight hitters had just three RBIs and one home run in the five-game NLCS series win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Through the first five games of this year’s NLCS those same slots produced eight RBIs and three home runs for San Francisco (make that nine RBIs and four home runs if you count Uribe’s series-winning blast in Game 6).
You should take comfort in knowing that you no longer need to look toward one part of the lineup for run production. The next big hit can come from anywhere in the order. That unpredictability may be ulcer-inducing at times, but it is indicative of a team that believes in each player inside the dugout.
“It could be torture, but they play 100 percent for each other,” said team president Larry Baer after being handed the NLCS trophy.
With that mentality you should be 100 percent confident that these Giants have a better chance of winning the World Series than they did in 2002. And they have the personality to back it up.
To reach staff writer Michael Green, click here.
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