image via nytimes.com
For someone who as a kid loved the Yankees, and who after growing up a bit, moved to Atlanta and began a difficult love-hate relationship with Los Bravos there, it’s always been a ho-hum thing for me to acknowledge the San Francisco’s Giants’ presence. But in recent years, writer pal Dave Frauenfelder kept talking them up, and then the Giants started winning, and well, curiosity crept in like the bay fog.
So with that we skip ahead to this year’s World Series (S.F. vs. the Detroit Tigers, for the uninitiated or the disinterested). The Giants reached the Series with difficulty, something Detroit didn’t; the Tigers polished off the fabled but fading Yankees in four straight games.
The first thing I noticed about the Giants before each game was Hunter Pence, a wild-eyed Woody Harrelson clone, leading a hopping-up-and-down cheerleading session in the dugout, something that seemed to befuddle even some of his teammates. On the field the seemed like a bunch of young barrio guys beginning a pick-up game, not some of baseball’s finest:
Brandon Crawford and his long, curly hair and self-absorbed disposition.
Angel Pagan and his “gonna wipe the floor with you” glare.
Brian Wilson, with his painted fingernails and more-than-bushy beard.
Pablo Sandoval and his red mohawk.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Once the games began, though, these off-worlder-looking guys were consummate baseball professionals, executing their game as a lock-step team. Still, who would have thought they’d win in four games? After all, Detroit had the first Triple Crown winner since ’67 in Miguel Cabrera, and a host of hot bats surrounding him.
Did I mention the Giants pitching? Their staff quieted those Tiger bats to a total of six runs over the four games, the Tigers failing to score at all in games 2 and 3.
The Tigers awoke for game 4, though, aided by a strong right field wind. Cabrera, virtually a non-entity in the first three games, took his star turn in the third inning with a wind-aided homer to right. Giants catcher Buster Posey, who led the National League in hitting (also anemic at bat in the series), took his with a towering shot to left field in the sixth.
And so the game went into extra innings tied 3-3. Would the Giants whisper, “Ah, well, there’s always tomorrow?” No way, dude(s). Designated hitter Ryan Theriot dropped a blooper into right field, and with Theriot on second, aging Marco Scutaro sent him home with a single.
Then it was up to the Giants’ foppish closer, Sergio Romo. He struck out the first two Tigers on an assortment of fastballs and sliders, and that set up a World Series moment, the diminutive Romo facing gargantuan Cabrera. Was Romo intimidated? No way, dude(s). He put a fastball over the middle of the plate as Cabrera watched, blinking and unbelieving.
Giants win, 4-3, as Romo strikes out the side.
But baseball polish can only last so long, and after the first round of celebratory whoops and hugs, Hunter Pence led something that looked like a Deadhead dance circle between the pitcher’s mound and second base.