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The World Champion San Francisco Giants: who are these guys?

Nov 1, 2010, 11:29 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants v Texas Rangers, Game 5 Getty Images

Willie Mays never won a World Series in San Francisco. Neither did Willie McCovey. Or Orlando Cepeda. Or Barry Bonds. Or Juan Marichal or Gaylord Perry.  Hall of Famers? The San Francisco Giants have had many. But world championships? None.

Before tonight, anyway. Before a lineup full of role players and aging veterans — and one rookie who may one day join the immortals in Giants history — beat the odds in beating the Phillies and the Rangers and now stand as champions of the baseball world.

Perhaps the most overlooked veteran role player in the bunch was Edgar Renteria. A man who rode pine for months this season, fighting, age infirmity and ineffectiveness and who was seemingly marking time until he could retire and return to Colombia where family and business ventures wait.  A man who wouldn’t have been playing much if at all in this World Series had it not been for Pablo Sandoval and Mike Fontenot screwing up at third base and forcing Bruce Bochy to play Juan Uribe there. This afterthought of a player who hasn’t wielded lumber or flashed leather with purpose for years, it seemed, became the World Series MVP. If he follows through on the many suggestions he’s dropped this year and retires, he’ll have ended his career the way most of us came to know of it back in 1997: as a World Series hero.

But before we go too far down the road of praising the misfits and castoffs — or proclaiming Brian Sabean’s mastery of the waiver wire the new “Moneyball”-style inefficiency — let us remember that there is some serious artillery on this Giants team. In that rookie catcher I mentioned above, sure, but mostly on that pitching staff. In Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner who each handcuffed a strong Rangers team. In Brian Wilson, who hardly broke a sweat in any of his three World Series appearances. And most of all in Tim Lincecum, billed as the playoffs’ third or fourth best starter depending on who you talked to a couple of weeks ago, but who showed that when he’s on he’s better than anyone in the game. With the exception of one adrenalin-fueled mistake to Nelson Cruz Lincecum absolutely cruised, striking out ten and seemingly toying with Rangers hitters from beginning to end. Lincecum’s presence alone puts lie to the notion — a notion you’ll probably hear a lot of in the coming days — that the Giants are a team of nobodies. Lincecum is a superstar, and he’s part of a core of budding superstars.

So it wasn’t purely a triumph of an elite team, because there were many mismatched parts. And it wasn’t purely a triumph of a misfit team, because there are certainly elites on that roster.  It was simply a triumph of a team. An imperfect team with low expectations and clear weaknesses but with underrated strengths and impeccable timing. We get these sorts of champs more often than we typically remember. The 2006 Cardinals were one. The White Sox in ’05. The Marlins. The Diamondbacks. The Angels. Really anyone who isn’t the Yankees, Red Sox or recent-vintage Phillies, all of whom seem so . . .formidable.

And when we do get a champ like this — a team with human-scale personalities and human-scale expectations — it reminds you of everything that is good about baseball. How anything can truly happen in October.  And — when a past-his-sell-date shortstop gets hold of a pitch from a seemingly superhuman lefty — anything can happen on the first of November too.

  1. seeingwhatsticks - Nov 1, 2010 at 11:42 PM

    Well said. Lincecum is a star, and Cain, Posey, and Bumgarner all appear headed in that direction.

  2. eyebleaf - Nov 1, 2010 at 11:50 PM

    Well, well, well, well said.

  3. feartherallythong - Nov 1, 2010 at 11:59 PM

    I got nothing to add.
    Too busy doing a conga line down my street with the wife and kids.
    Good stuff, ’bout time…
    2002′s karma – avenged…

  4. Mark Armour - Nov 2, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    Perfect take. The Giants were the best team on earth in October, and have a wonderful core of young talent to build on. Enjoy this San Francisco, it is overdue but deserved.

  5. apbaguy - Nov 2, 2010 at 12:24 AM

    The cars have been streaming up and down El Camino Real, honking, their passengers celebrating an incredible win. They’re still at it about 120 minutes after game time. What a fabulous feeling. I hope it carries over for a while.

    Craig, you know I’ve always said you’ve been too hard on Sabean. I never called him a genius-I won’t start now-but I always thought a lot of his decisions during the Bonds days were owner driven. And now he’s done something completely unlikely I hope he gets a bit more praise than you gave him above. It’s a results driven business and he’s delivered.

    Finally, it’s no accident that the Giants had the lowest team ERA in the MLB this year. Sure it’s a pitcher’s park. But to be the absolute lowest your guys have to be pretty good also. And yes they were impossibly good in these 5 games. But that’s what happens in short series sometimes: one team gets hot and dominates another. It just happened to be the Giants, and we’re very happy about that here by the Bay (even us Oakland fans.)

    • gogigantos - Nov 2, 2010 at 2:13 PM

      as grateful as I am for all of this
      Sabes is the luckiest guy on the entire team, luckier than any of us fans,,, the roster is a fluke,, name a SINGLE positions player that is one of “his” guys, not a cast off, not an over paid, even none are his first choice free agent vets,, Renteria plays a great two weeks out of TWO YEARS at 9MILLION PER, yikes,, Franchez, best two weeks as a Giant, not healthy when traded for and not healthy when signed to extension,,,This team was healthier and flashed more leather than anytime all year in October, and Novemver,, man the breaks that come to make a World Series Winner just make it all so so so sweet,, need I go on? Uribe, on his second one year deal cuz not wanted two years in a row?! Huff, without a job and, what, third choice in January,, Torres? you tell me, pure luck? part of a plan? genius? Marc DeRosa makes more than Huff as a cheerleader and is signed for one more year, yikes, this guy can sure call the veteran signings,,,, and,,, let’s,,,, not go back any further than that OK,, oh the painful names,, oh the joy of winning erases so much ,, credit for the draft, for sure,,, wouldn’t have been there if his overall vision was of over paid, washed up vets wasn’t so clear and part of some master plan,, NOR,, Sabes is one lucky mofo for sure,,,, man oh man oh man we suffered with BENJIE MOLINA hitting CLEAN UP for two years!!!! I loved me some Molina, but not batting CLEAN UP, that was Sabes vision, that vision got those high draft picks that have been so huge,,, history and the draft? this has been pure pure luck that the picks are as good as dreamed that we are celebrating and sets us up with a good future window,,,, the next few will years will tell, can the Sabes put it together, put enough together to win again?, with allllll that young pitching and a Posey too!! I feared that this was another year of wasted great young pitching, so so so lucky to be tipping cars and vandalizing downtown right now,, please Sabes don’t waste the next couple years with more of your “vision”

  6. ta192 - Nov 2, 2010 at 12:27 AM

    I’m no Giants fan, but I do really like San Fran, great city…so, enjoy SF, enjoy…

  7. jhu1997 - Nov 2, 2010 at 1:24 AM

    I can’t believe they won. I sincerely cannot believe they won.

    The Rangers are an awesome, likable team and I wish them many great years. I think they’ll be lodged at the top of the AL West for some time.

    And, Craig, thanks for the awesome post. :)

  8. ultimatecardinalwarrior - Nov 2, 2010 at 1:36 AM

    With this and Prop 19 possibly passing tomorrow, this is a good week for Tim Lincecum.

  9. skerney - Nov 2, 2010 at 1:40 AM

    so many years. the greatest day of my life.

  10. curlybird99 - Nov 2, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    Congratulations to the 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. The entire organization deserves credit for this incredible victory. The Giants out-pitched, out-defended and out-hit every team that came up against them this post season. They were money and having them win the NLCS on my 60th birthday was a fantastic present.

    All is well in the universe.

  11. burtkauf - Nov 2, 2010 at 8:47 PM

    Who Are these Guys? Several steroid users on a team with a derided GM who would pick up any cast-off at any cost after 10 years of futility in SF other than the 2002 World Series appearance featuring none other than Bonds and his sterry friends. http://www.RoadToSuccess.us

    • curlybird99 - Nov 3, 2010 at 1:15 AM

      They are the champions, though, loser.

  12. joepags - Nov 2, 2010 at 10:09 PM

    you know whats funny, no one cared about this world series!!!! hahahahahahahhahaha!!! i didnt know it was even played!!! hahahahahahahha!!!

    • curlybird99 - Nov 3, 2010 at 1:13 AM

      Of course you didn’t know it was played. It’s hard to know anything at all with your head so far up your B-U-T-T funnyman.

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