A lot has happened since 1954 when the Giants last won the World Series.
The city by the Bay has become the technological epicenter of the country – and after various complaints from their star players, the Giants moved from the miserable Candlestick Park to Pac Bell Park. A move which was encouraged by local taxpayers since Candlestick resembled a West Coast version of the Eagles old Veterans Stadium.
In the past 56 years, while changes have occurred all over the Bay Area, one thing that hasn’t for Giants fans has been their ties with the word misery. Aside from watching great players in their presence, titles were never part of the conversation. What made it even worse were that local and downstate rivals, the Athletics and Dodgers, began collecting their share of championships. All San Francisco fans could hang their hats on were the Montana, Rice, and Ricky Watters glory years of football.
But as we all know, all droughts end.
It was a long wait filled with heartbreaks in ’89 and ’02, but what was considered a group of “misfits and castoffs,” was able to accomplish what teams that included greats like Willie McCovey, Joe Morgan, Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, Bobby Bonds, and Barry Bonds could not – win a World Series title.
The group who was able to win the title doesn’t consist of names you expect to see inducted into the Hall of Fame. Names like Buster Posey (could become one), Aubrey Huff, Edgar Renteria, Cody Ross, and Juan Uribe. Players described as a rookie trying to make a name for himself, a supporting cast player wishing not to go back to the minors, a bench player hoping to keep a job in the majors, a waived outfielder looking to make a team his home, and a veteran infielder thankful for barely making the roster because of his defensive skills.
In the face of offensive powerhouses like the Philadelphia Phillies and the Texas Rangers, this team stood tall. A stealth combination of pitching and timely hitting helped lead the “Say Hey” kids to the 2010 World Series Title.
Entering this year’s playoffs, analysts only discussed the Giants pitching and how it wouldn’t be enough to get them past hard-hitting teams. But Bruce Bochy’s ball club went out on the field and proved everyone wrong. With what many described as a lackluster offense, they did what nobody was able to do in the postseason – shutdown Ace pitcher Cliff Lee not once, but twice.
On the back of two-time Cy Young winner Tim “The Freak” Lincecum, the Giants are back at the top of the baseball mountain. Lincecum, who had a masterful performance, contained the Rangers to just one run with 10 strikeouts over 8 innings. Lee, who suffered the loss, pitched a tremendous game holding the Giants scoreless through the first six innings of the game, and striking out six while giving up three runs.
The matchup between both aces lived up to expectations until the ’97 World Series hero, Edgar Renteria, who has emerged as an offensive powerhouse this postseason hit a three-run homer to left-center field for a commanding 3-0 lead. This would be Lee’s only mistake of the night – but with Lincecum’s dominant stuff – that was all the Giants and the “bearded one,” Brian Wilson needed to bring the title back home.
With the Giants leading 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth, the bases empty and two outs on a full count, Wilson delivered a deadly a 90-mph cut-fastball that struck out Nelson Cruz and ended Ron Washington’s Rangers hopes. Lincecum and Barry Zito immediately jumped the railing, while Buster Posey rushed the pitcher’s mound as Wilson pointed to the sky with his signature move after a save.
Once it was all said and done, long-time Giants general manager Brian Sabean said: “This buried a lot of bones — ’62, ’89, 2002,” referring to past losing Series appearances.
“This group deserved it, faithful from the beginning. We’re proud and humbled by the achievement.” An emotional Aubrey Huff added: “All the experts out there picked us last,” as he teared up.
With 49er nation being down and out after many expected a strong year from Mike Singletary’s club, the Giants title couldn’t have come at a better time.
San Francisco is now a baseball town reborn.