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GIANTS WIN IT ALL! BRING TITLE TO SAN FRANCISCO END 56 YEAR SERIES DROUGHT

The Drought is Over Giants Win! (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

It was something that no one predicted at the beginning of the season, a Cinderella story of a team of journeymen unknowns, cast offs, rookies and a phenomenal staff of young pitchers overcame obstacle after obstacle to win the team’s first World Series title since 1954.  Back then it was the “Say Hey Kid” Willie Mays who electrified the nation with his back to the ball catch in deep center at the Polo Grounds while in 2010 it was a collection of misfits who bonded as no team ever has to win the World Series when no-one said they would even win their division.

Aubrey Huff in the Arms of Buster Posey (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

This team whose theme song was Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” didn’t stop believing and did what no Giants team stocked with All-Stars and Hall of Famers had not done since they were the New York Giants playing at the Polo Grounds. The franchise that had known sudden defeat in a 1-0 bottom of the 9th inning loss in the 1962 World Series to the New York Yankees finally won.  The franchise that had endured the tragic Earthquake Series of 1989 when they were swept by the A’s overcame all to win in 2010. Likewise the franchise that when just 6 outs from the victory in game six with the Champagne chilling on the clubhouse lost to the Angels had finally overcame decades of despair to win a World Series that most experts said that they would never win.

Tim “the Freak” Lincecum and his wild hair were a trademark of the Giants

Throughout the year the Giants were accorded no respect.  At the beginning of the season the Giants were picked by most to place no better than 4th in the National League West.  They won the West on the last day of the regular season and then went on to beat the Braves in 4 games in the NLDS winning game 4 in Atlanta holding the Braves to just 7 earned runs and a .175 batting average.  They played and defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS in a series that no baseball writers that I saw, heard or read predicted them to win against the highly favored Phillies…well no one but me and ESPN 94.1 Norfolk’s Tony Mercurio.  The Giants held the mighty Phillies to just 18 earned runs in 6 games and to a .224 batting average. Asked on the Giants chances in 2011 closer Brian Wilson said “I like our chances, we were picked fourth in spring training. We should at least move up to third next spring. You’d think.”

Brian Wilson looks to the Heavens after striking out Nelson Cruz to end the World Series (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The Giants pitchers allowed just 37 earned runs in 135 innings for a 2.47 post season ERA holding the Braves, Phillies and Rangers to 94 hits in 480 at bats and a playoff opposing batting average of .196.  Any way that you stack it, the Giants pitcher’s dominated two of the most prolific hitting teams in baseball as well as a good hitting Braves team allowing only 9 home runs.

“The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers.” Earl Weaver

Edgar Renteria gets his game winning home run off of Cliff Lee in the top of the 7th inning (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The story of the 2010 Giants is a story for the ages, a team composed of cast offs, second chance journeymen, veterans with their best years behind them and rookies who played like seasoned veterans overcame every obstacle and proved to the multitude of naysayers that they could win in a convincing manner.  Rookies including Catcher Buster Posey and pitcher Madison Bumgarner who both played the first months of the season at Triple-A Fresno played key roles in the last half of the season and the post season with Bumgarner’s win in game 4 being something that had everybody talking. Edgar Renteria in his second year of a 2 year contract that all expected to be his last year playing ball was the MVP.  He overcame a torn bicep and a lack of playing time to hit 2 home runs including the winning hit tonight after only hitting 3 in the regular season spending 4 months on the bench.  In the World Series he hit .412 with 6 RBI. To make it even more of a story Renteria called his shot in game 5 to Andres Torres and he had the game winning hit in the 1998 World Series for the Florida Marlins against the Cleveland Indians.

Cody Ross was picked up off waivers at the last possible moment after being released from the Florida Marlins had 5 post-season home runs and many key hits and at bats.  Aubrey Huff a free agent that no one seemed to want became the team’s home run leader and hit a massive home run in game four on Sunday night and a great sacrifice bunt that led up to Renteria’s home run.  Freddy Sanchez when not hitting with the bat made defensive play after defensive play. Andres Torres hit at a torrid pace, Juan Uribe with key home runs in the NLCS and World Series while numerous other Giants had key hits, defensive plays or pitching performances.

Tim Lincecum holds the World Series Trophy (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The Giants featuring the arms of 4 home grown pitchers outpitched the Rangers shutting down the most potent offense in the Major Leagues like they were a luckless Triple-A team belonging to a dismal major league franchise.  Tim Lincecum defeated Cliff Lee twice and in game 5 pitched 8 innings allowing one run and on three hits while striking out ten.  Matt Cain blew through the Rangers to shut them out in game two and finished the post-season allowing no earned runs. When Jonathan Sanchez struggled the bullpen came in and shut the Rangers down as they had the Phillies and who could believe the poise of Madison Bumgarner.  The Giants’ closer Brian Wilson was locked on and the Rangers definitely had reason to “fear the beard.”

This was an everyman’s team that embodied real America, guys getting second chances, men who worked for years unnoticed before landing with the Giants and young men that played with strength and maturity throughout the season.  There was something special about this team that transcended the parts and turned them into World Series Champions, they believed in themselves and their team took care of each other and didn’t listen to the naysayers.  Bruce Bochy the Giants’ manager managed them like a great General took charge and put players on the field each night that he knew would give the team the best chance to win. He moved players around for defense in the late innings when he got a lead, trusting in the arms of his pitching staff to shut down the vaunted Rangers’ offense which many experts said would overcome the Giants pitching staff.

“The only thing that matters is what happens on the little hump out in the middle of the field.” Earl Weaver

Well they were wrong. Just as the Giants had throughout the playoffs the Giants’ pitching staff dominated their opponent.  The Rangers who had a .276 team batting average in the regular season and hit .304 against the Yankees in the ALCS had just 29 hits in 153 at bats for a .190 batting average against the Giants scoring just 12 runs in 5 games and were shut out twice. In the final 18 innings the Rangers managed just one run against a Giants pitching staff that finished the series with a 2.38 ERA.

By contrast the Rangers’ staff could not stem the tide in games that were blowouts and games that were close with the exception of Colby Lewis in game 3 who held the Giants to 2 runs.  The Giants scored 29 runs 28 of which were earned on 42 hits in 169 at bats for a .249 team average while the Rangers’ had a 5.86 team ERA.  Cliff Lee who had never been beaten in the playoffs and had two World Series wins against the Yankees in 2009 allowed 9 earned runs on 14 hits in 11.2 innings work for a 6.94 series ERA.  His opposite Tim Lincecum allowed 4 earned runs on 8 hits in 13.2 innings for a 2.72 series ERA.

This team was amazing and was supported by the Giants greats from the past including Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, Felipe Alou, Jack Clark, John Montafusco, J. T. Snow and many more including Barry Bonds. I’m sure that the spirits of men like Bobby Bonds, Rob Beck  and Bobby Thompson were cheering them on as Judy’s cousin Bill who died during game one and my father Carl who died in June were.  The outpouring of support and emotion by these great who had never experienced a World Series victory in San Francisco was amazing.  Likewise the fans who came to endure a season of what has been named “torture ball” finally found that it paid off.

The Last Time 1954 Willie Mays makes “The Catch”

After 53 years of suffering in San Francisco the drought ended, the decades spend in the icy and unforgiving confines of Candlestick Park, the ravages of an earthquake and disappointment that left fans saying “maybe next year” was over.  The Giants led by cast offs, rookies and home grown pitchers featuring characters who sported “luck thongs” in the clubhouse, wild hair and beards that made them look like they might have a few screws loose had overcome the curse, whatever curse it might be and brought the World Series trophy home to the most beautiful city in America, San Francisco. Willie Mays commented after the game that “Oh, man, I don’t get overly excited about baseball, but looking at these kids and how excited they were, I had some tears in my eyes, because you never know, this might be the last time something like this happens to some of these kids. It’s a wonderful feeling for me, and I’m sure it’s a wonderful feeling for these kids and their families.” Mays knows that from experience, there is a sense of grateful appreciation in his manner that rings true, for none of us ever knows what tomorrow brings.

“I see great things in baseball.  It’s our game – the American game.  It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism.  Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set.  Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.” – Walt Whitman

I think that there is a lesson for us in our country today, that if you believe and pull together you can win even when everyone predicts your demise.  Maybe Americans can look at this team and take this lesson that you don’t have to spend excessively to be successful, that success does not have to be bought and that friendship and teamwork matter more than having a bunch of elite super-stars who can’t get the job done in the clutch.  Maybe that’s the lesson that we need to learn again.  The lesson so eloquently put by James Earl Jones as Terrance Mann in Field of Dreams “The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.”

The Giants took home the World Series as I predicted with their pitching, defense and clutch hitting being the difference. Congratulations Giants.  I guess that I will have to hang a 2010 San Francisco Giants pennant next to my 1989 Giants NL West Pennant in my kitchen. Like many fans I have spend my entire life waiting for this to happen enduring the cold of Candlestick where I saw Ed Halicki no-hit the Mets in 1975, took in the beauty of AT&T Park, watched Barry Bonds tie and break the Home Run record while deployed to Iraq but nothing compares to this. It was worth the wait. Go Giants!

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Tides Win in Durham 6-4

Alfredo Simon (shown at Harbor Park) got his first win for the Tides

The Norfolk Tides began their first road trip of the year in Durham tonight defeat the Bulls 6-4 as I listened to the game on ESPN Radio 94.1 while doing my taxes.  I love listening to a well called game on the radio as I can imagine what is going on and find it more enjoyable than watching on television.  When I was a young I was always mesmerized by the legendary Dodger’s announcer Vin Scully even though his is in the employ of Satan’s Major League franchise. What can I say I’m a Giants fan? Stone me with heavy stones.  Anyway I digress.

Tonight I listened to Tides announcer Bob Socci call the game against the Bulls as on Jackie Robinson Day I waited as is my custom to e-file my Federal Taxes 2 hours before the midnight deadline. The Tides jumped off to an early first inning lead when Bulls starter Jeff Bennett surrendered walks to Joey Gathright and Jeff Salazar on 8 consecutive pitches and was removed from the game with an injury. Brian Baker came in to relieve Bennett and gave up a double to Lou Montanez which scored Gathright and advanced Salazar to third.  Scott Moore singled to Center to drive in Salazar and advance Montanez to third.  Bulls Catcher Alvin Colina allowed a passed ball which scored Montanez and the Tides led 3-0.  Baker the retired Brandon Snyder and Josh Bell to pop out but Baker then allowed a double to left by former Bull Rhyne Hughes doubled to drive in scoring Scott Moore before Baker got Robert Andino to pop out to Second Baseman Joe Dillon. In the bottom half of the first Tides starting pitcher Alfredo Simon allowed two hits but stuck out two before getting ground out to Tides Third Baseman Brandon Snyder.

The Tides went down in order to Baker in the second and Alfredo Simon surrendered a single to Angel Chavez before getting Chavez on a force play at second.  The Third inning was equally uneventful as in the top of the third Lou Montanez reached first on a base on balls. Scott Moore then flied out to left and Brandon Snyder hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the Tides at bat.  Durham picked up a run in the third when Elliott Johnson got a bunt single and advanced to second when Rashad Eldridge grounded out to the pitcher Simon. Justin Ruggiano flied out but John reached third on a wild pitch from Simon.  Hank Blalock then picked up an infield single to second scoring Johnson before Joe Dillon popped out to Brandon Snyder at first to end the inning.

Rhyne Hughes doubled with one out in the fourth but the Tides failed to bring him home as Robert Andino flied to left and Adam Donachie struck out swinging.  Durham picked up a second run when Dan Johnson homered to right.  Simon would get the next three Bulls in order to end the inning.

The Tides threatened in the top of the fifth. Joey Gathright walked; Jeff Salazar struck out swinging which brought about a pitching change for the Bulls. Richard De Los Santos relieved Baker and got Lou Montanez to0 ground out to short but Gathright advanced to second. He would reach third when De Los Santos threw a wild pitch; however Gathright would advance no further as Scott Moore struck out swinging.  The Bulls did nothing in the bottom of the fifth; Simon gave up a walk to Justin Ruggiano but nothing else.  The Tides added to their lead in the top of the sixth.  Brandon Snyder got a leadoff single but it looked like De Los Santos was going to get out of the inning when he got Josh Bell to line out to center and Rhyne Hughes to ground out advancing Snyder to second.  Robert Andino then tripled to drive in Hughes and was driven home on an Adam Donachie single to left.  Joey Gathright singled to third but Donachie allowed himself to get caught between second and third and was tagged out by Shortstop Angel Chavez. Simon put the Bulls down in order in the bottom of the sixth.

The Tides went quietly in the seventh although Scott Moore reached first on a walk allowed by De Los Santos.  Chris George then came into the game for the Tides. The Bulls left two on base in the bottom of the seventh on a Tides error and a base on balls. Both the Tides and the Bulls went down in order in the eighth inning.

The Tides threatened in the top of the ninth. Adam Donachie walked to start the inning and moved to second when Joey Gathright grounded out to catcher Adam Colina.  Jeff Salazar collected a single to right which sent Donachie to third.  Durham then brought Heath Rollins into the game and after Salazar stole second Rollins got Lou Montanez to ground out with Joe Dillon holding Donachie at third.  Scott Moore went down swinging to end the inning ending the Tides threat.  The call was a check swing which third base umpire Manny Gonzalez said that Moore had gone around on. Scott said something to Gonzales most likely questioning Gonzalez’s parentage or something that he does in the privacy of his bedroom and was ejected from the game.

The Bulls made interesting in the bottom of the ninth.  The Tides brought in Frank Mata to close the game and Jonathan Tucker came in for the ejected Moore at second.  Chris Richard led off the inning getting on when Tucker committed a fielding error. Mata then got Angel Chavez to fly out to left and Alvin Colina to ground out to third with Richard advancing to second.  Elliott Johnson singled to right sending Chavez to third and then stole second.  Rashad Eldridge walked to load the bases and Justin Ruggiano singled to drive in Chavez.  With the bases still loaded and the Bulls down by three Tides closer Alberto Castillo relieved Mata.  Hank Blalock singled to left scoring Johnson however with the home crowd cheering Joe Dillon flied out deep to left when Lou Montanez caught the ball at the foot of Durham’s 32 foot “Blue Monster.”

The Tides had 6 runs on 9 hits with 2 errors and the Bulls 4 runs on 9 hits and no errors.  Alfredo Simon got his first win of the 2010 season and Jeff Bennett lost his second.   Alberto Castillo got his second save of the season.  Rhyne Hughes led the attack for the Tides with 2 doubles and an RBI his 7th of the season. The teams will meet tomorrow with Troy Patton scheduled to pitch for the Tides. As of now the Bulls pitcher is not announced.  With the win the Tides improve to 4-4 evening their record.  Tomorrow I am on duty at the medical center so I probably will not get much of a chance to listen to the Tides but do expect to file some report on the game.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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