Monday, October 25, 2010

Don't Take the World Serious!

And in a turn of events so unlikely as to have been predicted by absolutely NOBODY, the National League will be represented in the 2010 World Series by none other than that perennial powerhouse, the San Francisco Giants.  As recently as June, sports talk radio in the bay area was filled with the keening lamentations of the fan base, calling for the head of Sabean, the public flogging of Bochy and a trade of whatever it might take to get a real power hitter that might come up with two on and one out and do ANYTHING other than hit a two-hopper to second.  The pitching rich Giants did what they were expected to do, keeping opponents at bay while scoring runs rarely and inconsistently.  Many one-run games were decided in the late innings.  But oddly, many of those late-inning heroics came from the Giants.  First Uribe, then Burrell, then Posey, then Torres, one after another somebody stepped into the glare of the spotlight and simply refused to lose.  It was a season of amazing highs and lows, of heroics followed by squandered chances, every night adding to the epic torture of a team unlike any we'd ever seen.

We knew they were pretty good.  We knew they were fun to watch.  But we also knew they couldn't win with these hitters.  We knew it was going to be another couple years, watching them pitch their hearts out, only to lose a few too many torturous one-run games in the late innings.  But a couple unexpected things happened to this team on the way to another third place finish.  First, Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell took over the clubhouse, and showed a bunch of kids and last-place castoffs how to play like a big leaguer.  The bullpen, almost invisible behind the ups and downs of one of the most remarkable starting rotations in modern baseball history, decided that they could be even better than the starters - and then they proved it.  Brian Wilson provided a highly unusual kind of spiritual leadership, always leading from the front, never taking a step backward - call it the Church of Fearlessness.  And then, against all odds, or perhaps inevitably, the San Diego Padres, who spent the whole year leading the division, never losing three in a row, never having to absorb a crippling injury or lineup gone cold, suddenly collapsed in one of the great late - season train wrecks of all time, losing ten in a row, their confidence and in the end, their chance to play in the post-season.

Much will be written about this team.  The way they were assembled, piece by piece, on the fly, from the waiver wire, from the trading deadline, from the couch at home.  The way they came together, an unlikely chemistry that welcomed each new piece, that absorbed players like the Borg, that created a sense of family, an unwillingness to quit, and finally, an unlikely but lovable League Champion team.  The TV will tell the easy stories, of Posey and Molina, of Aubrey Huff and Freddy Sanchez, of Pat Burrell and Jose Guillen, of the 32 year old overnight sensation Andres Torres, the struggles of the beloved Panda and inexplicable magic that is Cody Ross.  But that's not the whole story.  That's not even the real story.  That's a fiction, a legend, built on bedrock truths and outlandish personalities and all the little stories from a grueling 162 game season.  People around the nation will see this team, the smiles, the bonds, the outrageous characters and the larger than life personalities, and they will very likely embrace them, for they are something rare and fine.  But I hope, in watching a team of misfits and castoffs play for all the marbles, they don't miss that other part.  That flinty stare from Pat Burrell, that steely determination from Aubrey Huff, that once-in-a-generation grace of Buster Posey, that competitive fire that is Licecum and Cain, and that utter mad fearlessness of Brian Wilson.  There is more to this team than the stories and anecdotes you'll hear from Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.  To watch them play together is to understand the timelessness and elegance of baseball, and to remember why we love this game.



  1. "Church of Fearlessness". I like that. I am going to try to convert.

  2. There is more to this team than the stories and anecdotes you'll hear from Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

    Get out! Next you're going to tell me this ain't America.