“The Giants are 2010 World Series Champions.”
Say that phrase to yourself, let it roll around in your mouth. Savor it.
What a thing to say.
It took the slightly imperfect team to do it, but San Francisco has its first title in 53 years with a Major League team.
This was a team that straddled convention. On one hand they proved the mantra true: “pitching wins you goddamn championships!” The monster rotation was headed by Lincecum, Cain, young aces throwing fire, and rounded out by the realized potential of Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner. The bullpen came together on the fly, growing into one of the league’s best and anchored by the black-bearded bundle of insanity known as Brian Wilson. He didn’t give up a run in nearly 12 postseason innings, striking out 16 on the way.
The lineup on the other hand hardly looked like a vintage Series winning crew. It was littered with overpaid veterans (Rowand, Uribe), waiver wire guys (Ross, Burrell), reclamation projects (Huff, Torres) and one monster rookie (Buster Posey). Freddy Sanchez and Edgar Renteria were maligned all season for their salaries and production. Sanchez was everywhere defensively in the postseason and Renteria had the iconic homer of this run.
This wasn’t a team with Yankee-like home run power, but they played like they did. The offensive game plan was simple: sometimes get a guy on base, mash a bomb out of the park, repeat as necessary until the pitchers have enough runs.
For a team with only two 20-plus home run hitters this didn’t make much sense. Not much of this run did.
Last night was a cathartic moment, really a release of years of painful memories. From the ’02 series, blown by Dusty Baker in game six and ending with a terrible Livan Hernandez performance in game seven, to J.T. Snow getting thrown out at home to end the 2003 NLDS, wasting a 100-win campaign, to the Dodgers dropping them from the playoff race on the second to last day of the 2004 regular season and the team falling from contention for years after that.
Before last night all of those were living, agonizing memories. Now they are harmless footnotes, reminding us that going through trials makes times like these all the sweeter.
Even this season had moments where things seemed bleak. Time and again during the summer the Giants were pushed to the far edge of playoff contention, a few games from falling out of it. Then the Padres fell apart, the Giants bats found their home run power and they made it in on the last day of the season.
Against Atlanta Brooks Conrad’s booted balls pushed them ahead. They got past Philly with three one-run wins. Finally they knocked the Rangers around, taking out one of the best postseason pitchers ever (Cliff Lee) as almost every one of Bruce Bochy’s moves worked to perfection. Renteria’s three-run blast and Wilson’s final strikeout capped it all.
And what’s more than just winning the historical title, the team was likable. They had character, had spunk. It seemed like new slogans and memes were born every week. The Machine, Ross the Boss, Let Timmy Smoke, Giants Baseball: Torture, OOO-RIBE, outcasts and misfits, Fear the Beard and 25 guys, 25 different stories.
But in the end there was only one story.
One story with a very happy ending.