The rise of the 24 hour news networks and the ever present beat of twitter and Facebook give fans like you and me a false sense of closeness with sports stars and celebrities, when in reality it is all an illusion. We might never know what really goes on behind the walls of those locker rooms. And yet, we are supposed to make judgements about teams we love based on disjointed pieces of information from a page-view hungry media.
But even wearing skeptics’ goggles with vision corrective lenses thicker than a plastic window, it is hard to not believe SF Giants manager Bruce Bochy when he says that the 2012 Giants team is one of the most unselfish teams he has managed.
The SF Giants are my neighbors. Some of them, literally! The regular season causes massive headaches in my life. The playoffs leave a carpet of broken glass pepper with late night hollering and a distinct smell of pee. But that is not the reason I can’t cheer for them. I can’t because I won’t. Because my tribal loyalties lie with a team across the country, the New York Yankees.
And it was in the nineties when I fell in love with the Yankees as a new immigrant, one who was taking his first swing at the game of America. Baseball is and will always be a path to assimilation. I encountered the Yankees, that were full of giant egos. I saw them put up amazing numbers but never really won the championships. It was really hard to love them. Yes there was Donnie Baseball but he was too old.
And then came the magical young homegrown stars — Derek Jeter, Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada. They were joining the likes of Bernie Williams. And el Duque. And just like that a championship team was ready for business. It was a collection of unselfish players who loved playing with each other. You could see it every day on the field. There was a quiet confidence and a never say die attitude. Smart trades brought Paul O’Neill and his ilk and before you knew it, Yankees were winning and a dynasty was born.
When I look at 2012 SF Giants, I can’t help but notice the parallels. A core of home grown stars — pitchers Matt Cain, Madison Baumgardner, Tim Lincecum, catcher Buster Posey and third-baseman Pablo Sandoval — surrounded by journeymen and middle of the road bit-players. And like those Yankees, this is a team bonded by a mysterious chemistry.
They have won two world championships in this decade — a feat in itself in these greed infested times. There is no reason why they can’t do it again and again and again. San Francisco team isn’t short of cash. It’s winning ways will bring in players from other places to fill out the roles. Another stark parallel between Yankees of the late 1990s and the 2012 Giants — both teams made miracle plays seem normal. They did little things better than the other guys. They just wanted to win more because they believed that they deserved to win.
It is easy to say luck was involved — yes it was — but lets not forget they beat a team that essentially made Yankees look old, tired and a bunch of overpaid losers. The Giants beat them by hitting three home runs off arguably one of the most fierce pitchers in the game of baseball. They shut down two of the mightiest bats in baseball. The Giants made Detroit fans feel how some of us Yankee fans feel right now — home runs don’t win the World Series, teams do.
I tip my hat to the Giants. There are many more loud Octobers to come well as long as the core home grown Giants stay together. And that’s okay because every October it would remind my beloved Yankees that it is home grown talent, some veteran intelligence and a whole lot of chemistry with a dash of luck that is the magic formula of baseball success. You know the same formula Yankees had in the nineties!