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!
5 thoughts on “SF Giants & the D-Word: a Yankee Fan’s take”
This Giants team only shared one starter with the team that won the 2010 WS, so their success has less to do with drafting and player development than with free agents and trading. The players who starred for this team included three former Oakland A’s – Zito, Scutaro, Casilla – who priced themselves out of the tiny Oakland market that the A’s can’t escape because of the Giant’s territorial rights shenanigans.
And don’t forget former Yankee Melky Cabrera, who secured home field advantage for SF with his All Star game MVP play that we now know was fueled by PEDs. The Giants set a new record for PED-related suspensions this year.
The Giants hit Verlander because the home plate ump imposed the world’s tiniest strike zone on him, which is very different from the reputation-based strike zone he usually has. In the ALDS, he was getting strikes called a foot off the plate vs. LH hitters, for example.
If you look a little closer, you’ll notice Angel Pagan stepping out of the batter’s box after Johnny Cueto had started his windup in game 1 of the NLDS, causing Cueto leave the game and the series with a lower back injury. And you’ll see Gregor Blanco repeating the same trick just before driving in the winning run in WS game 3. Unselfish play? I can think of some other names for it.
In any event, the Dodgers have new owners now, and a big media contract, so the 2013 Giants are going to face some serious competition they didn’t have this year in the NL West, easily the weakest division in baseball.
They have the core team now and they are going to win big as long as they keep bringing in role players like Scutaro and Casilla. I think this is a team that is all set to grow from here. I think that is why I didn’t say 2010 Giants. This one is a good and solid team that has done some amazing things.
@richardbennett, if I may quote the vice president, your statement that the this win has less to do with drafting and player development than free agents and trading is malarkey. Homegrown non-pitching starters in this year’s World Series include Posey, Sandoval, Crawford and Belt. Homegrown pitchers include, Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner, Romo, Kontos. In fact, had it not been for the draft and player development–and the emergent stars they’ve produced–there is no way this team could have won a title. If anything, that shows you the Giants front office has gotten better at finding and developing talent over the years. And to see something in Scutaro who had struggled in Boston, Colorado and Oakland and sign him to a deal was hardly a blockbuster trade that sent ripples through MLB when it went down. Same with Vogelsong, he was hardly a hot commodity when we acquired him.
Melky securing home field advantage? Again, Malarkey. Home field in World Series has proven to be statistically irrelevant unless the series goes to 7 games. Detroit couldn’t win 1 game in their own yard, against the Melky-less Giants no less, after their Ace–the supposed best pitched in baseball and the very same Ace that got shelled in the All-Star game–got his a** handed to him. Big players step up on big games.
Nobody in SF is afraid of the Dodgers. Not the players, not the fans, not the front office. The newly endowed Ned Colletti will continue to make Brian Sabean look like Branch Rickey and the Giants, awash in homegrown talent, will continue to win with chemistry and a dash of luck. Luck, after all “is the residue of design,” as Mr. Rickey once said. Go Giants!
I grew up close to Yankee stadium and have been a lifelong fan. I, too, didn’t like the direction of the team over the last decade, and most long-term Yankee fans I talk to feel the same way. Now, the Yankees aside, I haven’t seen a homegrown team rise like the Giants have over the past few years in a long time. The last one I remember were the Atlanta Braves, and they also went on to be dominant (in the regular seasons) for a long time.
Posey, Cain, and Romo are decent players, but Sandoval, Crawford, Belt, Lincecum and Bumgarner are mediocrities. Sandoval is a 2.0 WAR player, reserve caliber, while Crawford and Belt are sub-3, barely MLB starter grade. Lincecum is the highest priced long reliever in baseball, despite having a couple of good years against NL hitting in the past. The Giants happened to peak at the right time this year and had good playoff run, but in the regular season they simply feasted on the CRAP (Cubs, Rockies, Astros, Padres) teams of the NL with a below-average rotation, a mediocre group of position players, and a strong bull pen.
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