I’ll have a brand new column next week looking at 2011, but I felt this was a perfect time to remember what 2010 meant to me and my family as San Francisco Giants fans.
I first started following baseball closely when I was just 8 years old. The year was 1984 and the Giants were terrible. Just awful. I did get to go to the 1984 All-Star game which was played at Candlestick Park. Now THAT was a windy day.
So you can say that I’ve lived a little as a baseball fan. I’ve witnessed a ton of heartbreak (& 808s) as well as some joy. Hell, I got to witness one of the greatest baseball players who ever lived in Barry Bonds (here’s another hit). But when it came to championships, I would have none. Well, until this year.
Here are the words I wrote on November 1, 2010 after the team I’ve been rooting for since I was 8 years old, finally won the World Series:
November 1, 2010
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Giants’ closer Brian Wilson threw a 3-2 fastball to Nelson Cruz, the Rangers’ slugger who homered off Tim Lincecum in his previous at-bat. And time stood still.
If you were a Giants fan when the team came to San Francisco in 1958, this pitch had your entire Giants’ fandom threaded in its seams.
If you watched Willie McCovey line out to Bobby Richardson to end the 1962 World Series, this pitch had your tears on it.
If you sat through the 1987 NLCS and watched Ozzie Smith and Jose Oquendo prance around the field like little girls, this pitch had your scowl on it.
If you were watching game three of the 1989 World Series and the floor shook underneath you, this pitch was full of your fear.
If you sat there in disbelief as the Anaheim Angels came back from five runs down to win game six in the 2002 World Series, this pitch was about to erase the unfairness you felt then in your heart.
That fastball exploded out of Wilson’s hands and Cruz swung mightily, as if he could tie a 3-1 game with one swing and no one on base. But that pitch had too much heart and soul in it and it would’ve sawed through Cruz’s bat if his bat didn’t miss it first.
And the Giants were world champions. Finally.
Duane Kuiper called it like this:
For the first time in 52 years, the (San Francisco) Giants are world champions.
There wasn’t a Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Baby Bull, Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell, Robby Thompson, Matt Williams, Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, Jason Schmidt, or Robb Nen on this team. Instead, it was Dashing Cody Ross, Edgar Renteria, Juan Uribe, Andres Torres, and Freddy Sanchez. It was Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Johnny Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner, Javier Lopez, and Brian Wilson (and the Machine).
They were supposed to fall to Roy Halladay and the mighty Philadelphia Phillies and then when that didn’t happen, it was Cliff Lee who was going to be too much for them.
I had a good feeling that the Giants offense was going to do enough against Cliff Lee to win this game as long as Tim Lincecum did his job. Tim was the two-time Cy Young winner, not Lee. Yet, he was the underdog in his four starts against the Phillies and Rangers because of who was throwing on the other side. In those four starts, he went 3-1 and in the one game he lost, he out-pitched Halladay.
It was Cliff Lee who threw an unnecessary pitch to Edgar Renteria with two runners on that was the deciding factor in the deciding game of the World Series. With first base open and two out in the top of the 7th, he went 2-0 to Renteria. Two more balls and he would’ve been able to pitch to Aaron Roward who was making his first World Series start and who he had just struck out on three pitches in his prior at-bat.
Instead, he threw a cutter that didn’t cut very well, right into Renteria’s happy zone and the man who got the game winning hit in the 1997 World Series did so again in 2010. He hit a drive into left field that didn’t look like it was anything more than a one hopper off the fence. But it carried and carried and carried some more until it went over the fence to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.
I think Cliff Lee is a brilliant pitcher. But there’s a reason why I’d rather have Lincecum. Lincecum would never get beat on a cutter that didn’t cut. He’d make you beat him with his best fastball. He’d make you beat him with his super change. I like his make up. I’m not a fan of Cliff’s make up. And I think Cliff gets eaten up by the New York media if he signs there in the offseason.
Edgar Renteria played with a torn biceps tendon. He was only called on as a replacement in two of the NLDS series games against the Braves. He started in only four of the six NLCS games against the Phillies. But he started every game in the World Series, hitting in four out of the five games with two home runs and six RBI. He won the World Series MVP.
Giants beat writer Andrew Baggerly had this stat which is maybe the single most dynamic stat of the World Series.
Edgar Renteria is just fourth player with game-winning RBI in two World Series clinchers. Others are Gehrig, DiMaggio, Berra. No kidding.
I remember watching the 1984 Giants like it was yesterday. I’ve been watching closely for now 26 years.
I was upset in ’87. Bummed out in ’89. Thought it was unfair in ’93. The world was wrong in ’02. Now it all makes sense in ’10.
It really does all make sense.