As a major storm bears down on the East Coast of the United States and as the nation ponders to whom it will entrust the stewardship of the nation in next week's elections, baseball may seem somewhat trivial. But, baseball is an expression of national identity. It may not be as popular as it once was, but it remains the nation's pastime.
Last night the San Francisco Giants won their second World Championship in three years and seventh in franchise history. I was born the year the Giants moved west from New York to the City by the Bay. I watched with hope every year, believing this would be the year. It took fifty-two years and four tries to win that first elusive trophy. Willie Mays won one New York, but his San Francisco teammates Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Jim Ray Hart, Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry, Bobby Bonds, and more didn't taste victory as Giants. More often than not they watched the Dodgers win. I got to go to the 89 series, which was interrupted by an earthquake. In 2002 the Barry Bonds led Giants came within six outs of taking a series from the Angels, but faltered. Disappointment again came to Giants fans. Then in 2010, it was torture, but a group of non-stars led by a rookie catcher and a great pitching rotation put it all together and beat back the Texas Rangers to win the elusive crown.
This year the Giants had to come back from 7.5 down overcome the loss of their closer at the beginning of the year, a less than stellar year by their ace Tim Lincecum, the uncertainty of Buster Posey's recovery, and then the rise and fall of Melky Cabrera. They faced a resurgent Dodgers team that made blockbuster deals to get star players during the course of the season to bolster their attack. But the Dodgers faded and the Giants, having added Hunter Pence and Marco Scuturo took off and over came deficits in the Division Series and League Championship Series, beating the reigning champs in seven games. From there they took on a rested Detroit Tigers team that boasted the American Leagues best pitcher and the league's Triple Crown Winner. But the Giants, having won three straight to make it to the Series, didn't look back.
Who were the heroes of the series for the Giants, who took the Series in four games? Pablo "Panda" Sandoval, whose hitting and surprising defense got the Giants off to a fast start; Tim Lincecum's presence out of the bullpen, Sergio Romo's dominance and indomitable spirit (don't you love his dance at the end of a game?), the defense of the two Brandons -- Crawford and Belt, along with Gregor Blanco. Timely hitting by Hunter Pence and Buster Posey. Great pitching from Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner, along with gritty efforts by Voglesong and Cain. Truth be told everyone contributed to this team effort. What a sight to see for those of us who are life-long Giants fans. No longer do we live in the shadow of the Dodgers!
Having said all this, I need to take note of the Detroit Tigers. I live in Metro-Detroit and have adopted the Tigers as my American League team. I go to games each year, wear Tigers gear, root for them as hard as I can. I love Miguel Cabrera's dedication and Verlander's ability as a pitcher. I will go back out there next year and root for them. In fact, I think they can beef up the bull pen, get Victor Martinez back and maybe add an outfielder and they'll be even better next year. They have four very good to great starting pitchers, stars at the two infield corners, and a budding star in center field. They probably over-performed in the American League playoffs to get to the Series, but they made it and this has to be considered a great year for the Tigers. Unfortunately (and I know this only too well) only one team can take home the championship trophy. But, hey it could be worse. We could all be Cubs fans! Come April we can again say -- Go Tigers!!
I'll be back to rooting for the Tigers in the Spring, but the Giants will always have my heart!! So, congratulations to the Giants -- you guys did it!! Keep on trucking!!