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Stop Invalidating The Giants' Championship

(originally written 3/10/11)

What is it going to take for the Giants to get a little respect? Another championship, apparently.

All over the radio, in the papers, on blogs, TV—you name the forum, there are folks who treat the San Francisco Giants’ championship as an aberration, a fluke, a mistake. They don’t use those words, but they don’t have to. The percentage of people betting on the Giants’ repeating is dismally low, largely because the Phils managed to bring back Cliff Lee to give themselves four starters who’d be #1’s on most teams in baseball. 
That said…if yours truly hears one more drip prattle on about the superiority of the Phillies’ pitching staff guaranteeing a return to the 2011 World Series, I just may go back to Citizens Bank Park and ram my head against the wall a la Aaron Rowand, just to make it stop.

Philadelphia does have four of the top starters in all of baseball. I’m granting you that. (And their #5 is no slouch; he could slide into any rotation in the major leagues and hold his own.)

However, those four starters (on two separate teams) failed to beat the Giants in six of seven tries last October. Roy Halladay—beaten in NLCS Game 1, just like he was beaten badly in the regular season. “Oh, the Giants—they’re not gonna repeat. They’re gonna have to get through Halladay blah blah blah blah.” But they got through him before. Why is the idea of SF beating Halladay again impossible to entertain? This is like telling President Obama he has no shot at re-election because he’d have to beat John McCain.

“Then you have Lee, and Oswalt, and Hamels—“ So the (bleep) what? 

Am I the only person who saw the Giants beat Cliff Lee not once, but twice in the WORLD SERIES? Didn’t that prove he is not invincible? Listen—especially Phillie fans—I’ve been watching Lee since his early Cleveland days (boy, did the Indians fleece Montreal in that deal). He can deal. He is as great a lefty as there is in the game today. He deserves all the props he gets. But in the World Series, he was beaten. Twice. How can anyone honestly use “The Phillies have Cliff Lee” as support for an argument that the Giants won’t repeat as NL Champions? Is anyone saying that American Idol, the highest-rated show in the country this year, won’t do the same in 2012 because Simon Cowell isn’t there anymore? How asinine a remark would that be? 

Cliff Lee could well kick the Giants’ butts. 
But they’ve proven they can kick his, too.

Roy Oswalt—great pitcher, among the three best Houston’s ever had. Outside shot at the Hall of Fame if he can put together a couple of huge years in Philly. Feared by the Giants? Uh, no. As I recall vividly, those same Giants tagged him for a loss on Opening Day, and that was a Giant lineup not yet bolstered by Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Andres Torres (still a reserve) or even Buster Posey! Overall, he’d go 2-4 vs. SF in 2010, including postseason. And he’s part of the reason folks are picking the Phillies? I know low run support played a role in those losses, but that’s how the Giants win games! It don’t matter that they beat Oswalt in close, low-scoring games. They found ways to beat him four times last season. Like Halladay and Lee, Oswalt—for all his accolades—is far from a Giant killer.

We Giants fans don’t want to hear about Brooks Conrad basically handing us the NLDS. Nobody on our side told Bobby Cox to put the guy out there. Errors are part of baseball, and teams win because of opponents’ shoddy fielding just about every day. Do you hear anybody invalidate the 1986 Mets’ victory because of Buckner? Or the 2006 Cardinals victory over error-prone Detroit? No. So stop doing it to the Giants, America. That was one game, and not even the clinching game, thank you! We don’t want to hear about their “meager” 92 wins. The aforementioned Cardinals won just 83. The 2000 Yankees won 87. Oh, and I remember those same Phillies winning 92 on their way to the 2008 World Championship. 92 is 92—don’t dis the Giants’ 92 because it wasn’t as exciting or sexy as the 2008 Phillies’ 92.

Finally—even if you don’t want to give SF credit for their recent success against the four Philly aces, and you still want to “blame” their win on Conrad—you have got to stop downplaying their victory because it didn’t come against the Yankees or Red Sox. Uh…the Yankees or Red Sox did not get to the World Series. That must mean they were not the best A.L. team, right? I mean, isn’t that why they HAVE postseasons? The Phillies didn’t beat the Yankees or Red Sox in 2008—is their title genuine? Or the ‘90 Reds? Or the ’88 Dodgers? Does Atlanta’s 1995 Championship need an asterisk for coming against Cleveland? 

Texas won their division by nine games, then beat the Yankees—a team with double their payroll and playoff experience—fair and square. They had six of the game’s best players, including the league MVP and Rookie of the Year! 
The Yankees didn’t even win their division and the Red Sox didn’t make the playoffs. What some folks are basically arguing: “Okay, the Giants won, but they didn’t do it against a third-place team or the ALCS loser.” 
I’m going to say it one last time, America:
“The Yankees and Red Sox are not—not—honorary superpowers just because they spend the most money and have the most fans. World Series victories do not go through New York and Boston every year; if so, there’d be two American League teams instead of 14.”

Okay, I think I’m finished.
Am I saying they should be the favorites in 2011? Well…why not? They are the defending champions, aren’t they? Or did I imagine their 11-4 postseason run?
As long as the Giants stay healthy, don’t dismiss them as if they won the World Series by mistake, please.

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