Tuesday, October 23, 2012

San Francisco Shows How To Be Giants In the Spotlight

Has one team showed what it takes to win more than the Giants have this entire season?  They made the right trades, even though their rival made sure they acquired the bigger names.  Their best hitter was hit with the dreaded 50 game suspension for taking a banned substance.  Their ace had over a five ERA for the entire season.  The star young catcher came into the season as a newly anointed injury prone player.  Their top tier closer needed Tommy John surgery in the first month of the season and never came back.  Not to mention the fact that in one postseason they have played six elimination games.  Now they have what everyone in San Francisco consider the worst spent 126 million dollars in the history of the world taking the ball in the biggest game of his career.  Talk about overcoming the odds, the Yankees should be taking notes.

Go to the beginning of the season, and from day one it was looking like a long season to come.  Their first game of the season Tim Lincecum got pelted for five runs over 5.1 innings.  They ended up getting swept by the defending NL West champion Arizona Diamondbacks.  It immediately looked like they were no longer the team to beat in that division.  They ended up losing Brian Wilson for the season in April with nothing but a huge question mark coming in behind him.  They ended the first half losing seven of their last nine.

Then the All Star game showcased that the Giants have some very good players and the rest of the league should take notice.  Buster Posey, Melky Cabrera, and Pablo Sandoval helped beat up reigning MVP Justin Verlander to the tune of five runs in the first inning.  Matt Cain pitched two scoreless innings to start the game and the National League took the reigns at the Midsummer Classic.

 The second half felt like new life for the Giants.  The came out of the gate winning five games in a row.  The Giants, even without Tim Lincecum, looked like they had the best rotation in baseball.  They sent Cain, Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner, and a rejuvenated Barry Zito out there every five days.  They went from a question mark to a force to be reckoned with seemingly overnight (or over All Star weekend). 

The Giants went to try and keep up with LA's spending spree (Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino) by trading for the likes of Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro.  Even before the major August trade that brought in Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett it seemed as if the Dodgers appeared to have done enough to win the West with ease.  The Giants weren't hearing any of it.  They ended up winning the division by eight games leaving no chance by early September for the blue squad in Los Angeles.  In hindsight it looks like the Giants made the perfect moves.  Scutaro ended up winning the NLCS MVP hitting .500 over the series and getting very key hits.  Hunter Pence ended up hitting a very weird, but very clutch broken bat hit that ended up plating three runs.  That hit took everything out of the Cardinals that were cardiac kids themselves.

Rewind a couple months.  In one of the weirdest stories in baseball, the National League's leading hitter and a leader in the Giants clubhouse was hit with a 50 game ban for ingesting artificial testosterone.  Melky Cabrera was thought of as the key to the Giants season.  That notion is laughed at when asked about it today.  One of your stars going down in a scheme to trick Major League Baseball and just bring shame to anyone you have come in contact with, it should be something that tears your team apart.  Between the ongoing questions, the glaring spot missing in the middle of your order, the feeling of being cheated yourself, and seeing a teammate going down in such a spectacular way is supposed to take you focus off baseball.  All it did was bring this team closer together.

First round against the feisty Cincinnati Reds team started off in the worst possible way.  The Reds pulled out a Game One victory even after losing their ace early and possible facing the best pitcher in baseball.  Then they got drilled by a score of nine to zero in Game Two.  Two days into their postseason and they were already facing elimination.  The next game needed extra innings to keep themselves alive.  The next two games came easy and the Giants made the improbable comeback by winning three games in a row on the road facing elimination to win the series.  Think about that, they lost both games at home and were on the brink knowing they weren't coming back to Cali in the series.  The nerves may have been great, but it was impossible to tell. 

Next on the list was the defending champion St Louis Cardinals, coming off their own comeback winning game five against Washington when they were down by five in the ninth inning.  The Cards won three of the first four to put the Giants on the brink once again, and the only person who could save the season was Mr Barry William Zito.  The man who couldn't handle a big contract was supposed to go out and pitch with an entire team on his back.  Well if Zito has a bad psyche then it was impossible to tell on that night.  His 115 pitch effort was one of his greatest.  He kept the Cardinals off the score board all night and helped the Giants send it back home.  Nobody knew it then, but the Cardinals had no chance at that point.

The Giants ended up winning that series and here we are, Game One of the World Series is tomorrow night.  The Giants are improbable to say the least, but who cares?  They win, period.  This team shines when others whittle.  There is no hurdle too big.  There is no valley too steep.  Insert riveting analogy here to make you understand that this team can overcome anything.  Is it not fitting that the starter tomorrow night is the biggest waste of 126 million dollars in the history of the world?

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