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The 2010 Giants Won It All For You

(originally written 11/3/10)

As affirmed by Bob Fitzgerald and Rod Brooks on KNBR (the Giants’ flagship radio station) repeatedly yesterday, saying “The Giants won the World Series” out loud feels really good. As Cody Ross told reporters in the middle of the night, it still hasn’t completely sunk in. You wait so long for something, and then when you get it, often times you don’t know how to feel. Trust me, I feel GREAT. But at today’s parade, great should graduate to “sensational” upon locking eyes with all the men responsible for making it happen. The 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants.

I can’t say that I’ve personally waited 52 years for the San Francisco Giants to claim baseball’s ultimate prize. I’ve only been a fan for 20 of my 30 years, but I’ve seen a lot of anguish and a lot of disappointment during that time. Not as much as those who’ve bled Orange and Black since the day Willie Mays first rode down Market Street in the convertible, but enough to resonate. And to write about.

This column is partially inspired by the Boston Red Sox. As many baseball fans know, in 1986, when the team was sitting on a 68-year title-less drought of their own, the Sox were one strike away from closing out the New York Mets when catastrophe stuck. While Bill Buckner’s error was not solely liable for the defeat, as far as Boston fans were concerned, it was the detonator setting off the bomb that blew up their trophy chances. Much as Woodstock became the symbol of peace decades ago, Buckner’s error became symbolic of not only the 1986 loss, but of all Red Sox failures previous and forthcoming. He didn’t deserve the scorn, the blame, the insulting mail that he’d soon receive an abundance of. 

Well, the Red Sox did break their “curse” in 2004, and added a second title in 2007. It was after the second victory that Buckner was invited back to Fenway Park, where he hadn’t been since his career ended, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and be “forgiven”, so-to-speak. (I doubt they worded it that way, since Buckner committed no violation which warranted an apology.) He got possibly the loudest Fenway ovation since Ted Williams was wheeled onto the field before the 1999 All-Star game.

Well, I’d like to do something similar. Not necessarily “forgive” anyone—this is a sport—but to, say, let certain past Giants off the hook for failing to live up to expectations as well as acknowledge all the great players who’ve passed through Candlestick and AT&T Parks over the years but were unable to deliver what a group of “misfits and castoffs” managed to. Again, I can only go back 20 years in detail, so that will be the focus.

This World Series Championship is for Jose Cruz Jr., who so famously fumbled a fly ball that proved very costly in the 2003 NLDS vs. Florida. You’re off the hook. Return to AT&T and you will be cheered.

This is for Salomon Torres, who gave us nothing in 1993 Game #162 against the Dodgers, a game the Giants needed to win or kiss a playoff berth goodbye. You’re off the hook.

This is for Robb Nen, who was never on the hook per se, but warrants mention for literally giving his career for the 2002 Giants in the World Series. If he’s healthy, he might not have given up that go-ahead double to Anaheim’s Troy Glaus; we’ll never know. Just know we never blamed you and knew just what you sacrificed for us fans. This trophy is for you.

This is for Livan Hernandez, who couldn’t deliver for the 2002 Giants in Game 7 vs. the Angels. You’re off the hook.

This is for Felipe Alou, Dustin Hermanson, and Wayne Franklin, whose efforts combined to knock the 2004 Giants out of the postseason. You’re all off the hook.

This is for the entire 1997 and 2000 Giants, who tried so hard but couldn’t get out of the first round.

This World Series trophy is for Armando Benitez, Barry Zito and every other unpopular Giant who didn’t live up to a sizable free agent contract. You’re off the hook.

This is for Ruben Rivera, executor of “the worst baserunning in the history of the game”. We’ll all laugh about it now.

This is for all the San Francisco stars from yesteryear who couldn’t bring the title home. Willie Mays. Willie McCovey. Juan Marichal. Orlando Cepeda. Gaylord Perry. John Montefusco. Darrell Evans. Bobby Bonds. Jack Clark. Chili Davis. Vida Blue. Will Clark. Kevin Mitchell. Robby Thompson. John Burkett. Rod Beck. Matt Williams. Barry Bonds. Rich Aurilia. Jeff Kent. Jason Schmidt. J.T. Snow. Don’t sweat it, boys. Timmy and Cainer and Panda and Cody and Edgar and B-Weezy picked you guys up.

This is for my late grandma, Ann Savage, quite possibly the feistiest Giants fan of them all. “Get ‘em out, strike ‘em out, however you got to get ‘em out, GET THEM OUT. Even if you got to KILL ‘em!” she’d order her beloved San Francisco soldiers. She rooted for them even back in New York! (she was from Alabama)  I’m so sorry she passed just 21 months before her Giants brought it home. Of course, knowing her, she may have had something to do with it…

And finally, this is for my buddies who have languished through so many bad Giant teams, had their hearts broken by some very good Giant teams that couldn’t get over the hump, but never—not even for a minute—ranked the Giants any lower than #1 in their hearts. It was great riding this ride with you alongside me, and thanks to $3 unlimited texting, you were right there with me pitch-by-pitch when you couldn’t be physically.

This is even for a couple of bandwagon fans who shall remain nameless…to anyone who doesn’t read this entire paragraph. I’m talking about Tiana and Shavonce, of course, two of the biggest A’s fans around who nonetheless heaped support onto the Giants once they reached the postseason. Don’t skin your knees when you hop OFF the bandwagon come 2011. 

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