In the early part of September the San Diego Padres had the division sewed up. They were seven and a half games up in the NL West with Colorado beginning to make their customary postseason push behind the monster months of Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitski.
Ahead of them in the Wildcard were the NL East powers of Philadelphia who were fueled by the big three of Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels, and Atlanta who were trying to send Bobby Cox off to retirement with one last World Series run.
Then there was the story of Cincinnati who was finally in a pennant race after fifteen years behind another masterful rebuilding job by Dusty Baker and the emergence of Joey Votto as an NL MVP candidate.
So where the hell did the San Francisco Giants come from to win the World Series?
How did a team of castoffs, misfits, rookies and beards go from a frat pack to the most polarizing team of the postseason?
How did Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard and Josh Hamilton all wilt under the bright lights of the postseason while Cody Ross, Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria came through time and time again?
I don’t know. How does Brian Wilson “tan” his beard?
While we marveled at Cliff Lee’s precision, the Yankees legacy, the Phillies pitching and the Rays youth
the Giants were sitting back growing their beards wondering who was going to start in left field let alone get to the World Series. Tim Lincecum was trying to regain the form that made him a two-time Cy Young winer. Pablo Sandoval was in the midst of a season long power slump. Their cleanup hitter was Aubrey Huff who was thrown by the waist side by the Detroit Tigers.
To say that their championship run is a surprise is an understatement… but should we really be surprised?
Think about it. As much as Lincecum struggled in August as well as postseason castoff Barry Zito the Giants were still deep in the rotation thanks to their other three young studs Jonathan Sanchez, who pitched a no hitter last year, Matt Cain, whose ERA was a ridiculous 0.00 in the postseason and Madison Bumgarner who became the youngest lefty to throw eight shutout innings in the world series at age 21. As great as Lee, Halladay and others were, the Giants just had too much pitching for any lineup to deal with.
Speaking of lineups… Um this one ain’t that scary on paper, but boy did it provide nightmares for everyone. Cody Ross’s NLCS performance is the stuff legends are made of as he just always seemed to come through in clutch situations. Ross was a Marlins castoff who only made the postseason roster thanks to a Jose Guillen neck injury. Ross certainly took advantage of the opportunity and helped put the Phillies run in the NL to rest.
The most important bat might have been 23 year old Buster Posey. Posey was called up after the Giants needed a boost behind home plate that they werent receiving from Bengie Molina who they shipped to Texas. Posey did more than just deliver timely hits like his home run in game four off of Darren O’Day but the way he called games behind the plate made you wonder if he really was a rookie. Cain, Lincecum and company shined with Posey calling the shots as no lineup seemed too intimidating for the former shortstop.
I could go on and on about this team and they deserve it. The Giants have suffered heartbreak after heartbreak since their last title in 1954 when Willie Mays roamed center and the Giants played at the Polo Grounds in New York.
The heartbreak of the initial move to San Francisco, the earthquake in 1989 with that great team with Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell to the agony of being 6 outs away of a title before the Anaheim Angels stormed back to claim the series in 2002 and the entire Bonds era of constant headaches was more torture than one franchise should deserve.
Fortunately for us the Giant faithful basked in it holding up signs claiming how torture never felt so good. Nightly at one of baseball most beautiful venues the orange and black maniacs wore fake beards to glorify Brian Wilson and the gangs grizzly new look. The cheered loudly for Uribe’s home runs, Lincecum’s strikeouts and Freddy Sanchez’s wizardry at second. It was the perfect team to stand behind as far as they were concerned, a bunch of players no one wanted on a team that was of no concern when compared to their southern rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Now they all share the glory together. A team that no one saw coming amongst a slew of postseason monsters that grabbed the headlines. A fan base that had it’s share of pain spanning close to 60 years. The Freak, the beard and the guys no one wanted plus a bunch of young guys that no one paid any attention to now stand as the center of our attention.
It couldn’t happen to a better more unique group of guys. Guess you don’t need glamour to win a World Series, just a group if characters who don’t know better. Now do us all a favor… SHAVE! Except you Wilson you’re a special case, fact.