Misfit Giants Deserve To Be Champions
They did it, that band of misfits and outcasts. They did it.
After 56 years of futility in San Francisco, the 2010 Giants finally brought a championship home to the Bay.
There was no earthquake to stop them this time; no rally monkeys to taunt them. There was no Bonds-like figure for fans to feel conflicted about; no Robb Nen to feel sorry for. The heartbreak ended in Texas, right there on the green grass of the Ballpark in Arlington, with 25 grown men whooping and jumping around like 8-year-olds on a sugar rush.
"This buried a lot of bones -- '62, '89, 2002," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. "This group deserved it, faithful from the beginning. We're proud and humbled by the achievement."
On paper, this wasn’t the Giants team that was supposed to end San Francisco’s torturous run. These Giants weren’t the most talented bunch. They weren’t the most polished. Most of the time they weren’t even favored. But boy did they play with heart.
Armed with a lineup of gritty veterans and the finest collection of starting pitchers since the 2002 Oakland A’s, they took down the Texas Rangers in five games, holding the league’s most potent offense to 12 runs in five games.
They beat previously undefeated ace Cliff Lee not once, but twice, the first time scoring 11 runs just for good measure. They shut out the Rangers at home in Game 4 (just the second team to do so this season) and held them to a .190 batting average, proving that the old adage about good pitching beating good hitting still holds true.
They won with effort, personality and unshakeable confidence. To a man, you could tell they expected to win.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of this team,” outfielder Cody Ross said after the game. “We didn't have any superstars, just a bunch of guys who wanted to win."
Faced with assembling a championship team at the beginning of the season, you wouldn’t have picked more than one or two of these Giants – Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain maybe; Buster Posey if you were feeling lucky. There weren't any Albert Pujols' in this lineup, just a bunch of Cody Ross' and Aubrey Huff's. But from top to bottom, the Giants overperformed and did the little things needed to win.
They played good defense, advanced runners when they needed to and came up with enough timely hits to outscore the explosive Rangers by 17 runs.
World Series MVP Edgar Renteria led the way with a .412 batting average, two home runs and six RBI, but the Giants got significant contributions from nearly every man in the lineup (yes, that clause was written for Pat Burrell).
Andres Torres bounced back from a poor National League Championship Series performance to hit .318 and score four runs. Huff hit .294 with four RBIs. And Posey and Freddy Sanchez came through on a regular basis, both at the plate and on defense.
As good as the Giants were on offense, their pitching was even better.
Lincecum outdueled Lee twice, adding the star lefty to a "Kill Bill" list of postseason victims that already included Derek Lowe and Roy Halladay. Matt Cain pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings in Game 2 to extend his scoreless innings streak to 18. And rookie Madison Bumgarner staged his own Texas Chainsaw Massacre, cutting down Rangers on his way to eight scoreless innings in Game 4.
Sure, Jonathan Sanchez struggled in Game 3, but other than that San Francisco’s starters were as flawless as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar.
"They did all right," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I couldn't be prouder of a group. They played with heart and determination. They weren't going to be denied. My staff, they accepted their roles and had only one mission."
That mission was championship and it included forays through Atlanta and Philadelphia, the latter having represented the National League two seasons in a row in the championship (including a World Series win in 2008).
Nevertheless, the Giants prevailed, losing just four games along the way.
They triumphed with a castoff NLCS MVP-winning rightfielder, a castoff World Series MVP-winning shortstop and a castoff manager who made the right decision every step of the way (from pitching Bumgarner in the middle innings of Game 6 of the NLCS to pulling Lincecum in favor of Brian Wilson in the ninth inning Monday night).
The Giants may be a rag-tag group, but they outplayed the league’s best teams and they deserved to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy in Texas, regardless of what the analysts had to say about their chances for success.
Lincecum, Renteria, Cain, Uribe, Bumgarner, Huff, Wilson, Sanchez, Posey, Ross. Those guys played their hearts out. They deserve what they got: a World Series championship to bring back to the Bay.
It’s a proud moment to be a Giants fan.