Party by the Bay
Congratulation to the San Francisco Giants are in order. They officially closed out the 2012 Major League Baseball season by beating the Detroit Tigers 4 games to love. A team that was doubted all year long, disrespected time and again, took us all by surprise and won the whole damn thing. Their unbelievable story goes a little bit like this…
In the regular season, the Giants played neck and neck with the Dodgers through August for the NL West crown. Both teams were carried by a solid rotation and timely hitting. In the process, the Giants certainly had their ups and downs. They had Melky Cabrera leading the league in hitting for the first half of the season, including single handedly dominating the All-Star game, subsequently clinching home field advantage for the Giants. Matt Cain was equally dominant, earning the starting spot for the NL All-Stars. Buster Posey bounced back from an injury shortened 2011 and returned to his All-Star level. At the same time though, Tim Lincecum, the 2 time former Cy Young Award winner greatly struggled all season long, losing several miles of the fastball and control of the strike zone. The before mentioned Melky Cabrera got caught with steroids, then caught attempting a cover-up and it looked like the wheels might fall of the Giants bus.
In late August, I wrote an article about the NL West race being tied and predicted that the Giants would find a way to close it out, though I wasn’t at all certain. The the Dodgers pulled off a blockbuster trade for the ages, adding Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford only weeks after adding Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino. My P.I.C. called the Dodgers the best team on paper, and the entire baseball world figured Los Angeles would easily overtake the Giants for the NL West. Obviously being the best on paper doesn’t equal success because the Dodgers went into a slide that handed the Giants the division. Heading into the playoffs, their were still question marks surrounding the Giants about how legitimate they really were.
We picked the Giants to lose their first round series against the Cincinnati Reds. We looked like geniuses as the Giants dropped the first two games at home. Because it was a Best of 5 Series, everyone assumed it was over the Giants. The Reds had three home games and only needed to win one to advance. Well, the Cincinnati crowds had three long awful days of spectating, as the Giants performed admirably with their backs to the walls. Former Giants and current Reds manager Dusty Baker choked in the playoffs again, but this time the San Francisco fans were on the receiving end.
Next came the NLCS, where we picked the defending Champion Cardinals to keep up their clutch play and beat the Giants in 7. Well, we looked like we had picked correctly again as the Cardinals took a 3-1 lead and like the Reds, only needed one more win to eliminate the Giants while San Francisco needed three. However, the Giants received a Game 5 victory from the beleaguered Barry Zito, the momentum in the series shifted and San Francisco ended up easily defeating the pesky Cardinals in Games 6 & 7.
Heading into the World Series, it was the same exact script. The Detroit Tigers blew up the New York Yankees in embarrassing fashion, had the best pitcher in Justin Verlander and best hitter Miguel Cabrera and nobody really thought the Giants would win the World Series. Once again, the Sports Debaters are guilty as charged as we picked the Tigers in 7. Heading into Game 1, Verlander took the mound against the before mentioned Zito, and everyone expected an easy 6-0 Tigers win. That’s when the Big Panda took control of the series. Well, after 3 HRs by Pablo Sandoval and 5.2 one-run innings from Zito, all the nonbelievers took notice of the Giants 8-3 by the bay. Still, some observers were not yet convinced…
The Giants kept the ball rolling in front of their home fans to take a commanding 2-0 lead, with a brilliant pitching performance by Maidson Bumgarner and enough offense from Hunter Pence. The Tigers bats were held to two hits, as they were shut out and slightly resembled the Yankees in the ALCS. The Tigers were a team that had struggled with the bats during various periods of the regular season and they couldn’t have picked a worse time to fall back into old habits. Doug Fister, even after taking a line drive off the head, gave them a huge chance to win throwing 6 innings and only allowing a single run. The Tigers offensive ineptitude and 2-0 hole changed everybody’s perception.
The Tigers travelled back to Detroit for what they hoped would be three games to change the momentum in the series. As we know, only two games were necessary. A second shutout was dealt to them, as the Giants were able to score 2 early runs, which was more than enough for an unbelievable effort by Ryan Vogelsong, the beleaguered Tim Lincecum and closer Sergio Romo. Lincecum resurrected his season and Giants legacy, coming out of the bullpen and looking like the Timmy of old. In last night’s Game 4, the Giants were finally able to throw out their ace Matt Cain, who kept the Giants in the game despite giving up a 2 run HR to Miguel Cabrera. With the game tied at 3 in the 10th inning, Marco Scutaro had a huge RBI single, Sergio Romo closed it out as easily and stress free as one can imagine, and the Giants celebrated all night long in front of the opposing fans.
The Giants faced elimination 6 times during the playoffs and never panicked. The formula of unbelievable pitching and timely hitting worked all season long, and it’s always a recipe for postseason success. The Giants captured their 2nd title as a San Francisco franchise and their 7th overall, as they had won 5 in New York. Congratulations to the players, the city of San Francisco and all the Giants fans from coast to coast! This team didn’t care if they received respect, didn’t care if people thought they were legit and didn’t care if they were picked to win any series. As the end of the day, they are the Champions and will be until this time next year, or potentially forever if this hurricane ends civilization as we know it!