It would be wrong to look back at 2010 and not reflect upon the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series by beating the Texas Rangers. It was the first time witnessing my hometown team winning a championship (I was not on this continent when the Niners had their run). And let me tell you, I may root for teams from other parts of America that have won championships, but nothing beats watching your beloved hometown team win it all.
Bay Area sports franchises have been down during the past decade. The Raiders and Niners have stunk after the first couple of years at the beginning of the decade. The only glorious moments in Bay Area football the past decade was the OAK vs. TAMPA super bowl, and the improbable win over the New York Giants by the Niners at the wild card round with a pass interference non call to end the game. In terms of basketball the Warriors had that wonderful run in 2007, beating the number one seed Dallas as an eighth seed. Other than that, basketball has been down in the region for DECADES. And in the hockey the Sharks are perennial playoff teams but can never win it all.
As for my favorite sport of baseball, the A’s had consistent playoff runs early in the decades (and then subsequently runs into teams from the AL East) but then fell off the latter half. The Giants also saw much success earlier in the decade, culminating in the all too painful game 6 World Series lost in 2002 (a memory I can now finally let fade). Then, ever since the Jose Cruz error against the Marlins in the NLDS in 2003, the Giants have not been relevant. The Barry Bonds home run chase charade took its toll on the Franchise, and after he was gone the Giants was left with a bunch of old guys and young, unproven talent. How many of you know the pains of 2007? Are all you can remember is that we hosted the fucking All Star game? So to say I have waited a long time (relatively speaking) for my hometown teams to win a championship is valid.
Luck would have it the Giants organization saw fit to develop pitching from within the farm system. For a good amount of years all they drafted with their top picks were highly touted arms. They believe that with excellent pitching, they have a chance to win every time out (other team cannot win if they cannot score, right?). The likes of Lowry, Cain, Lincecum, Sanchez, Wilson, Bumgardner were all grown out of the farm system. Who would thought at the time when Zito was signed (I can still remember how excited I was then) that he would be relegated to the 5th starter role!
So then the Giants have had good pitching for a couple of years now (Two Cy Youngs for Timmy), but then the problem with the teams lie in the hitting. Sure the other team cannot win if they do not score, but the same goes for the Giants. Unlike the pitching, for a long time no big time hitting star came out of the Giant’s farm system. I mean there were great hopes like Niekro, Ortmeier, etc., but it just never panned out. For sure not drafting position players high up in the draft had a lot to do with it. I was of course pleasantly surprised when Pablo Sandoval came on the scene and hit like he did. I could not believe that such a hitter could have come out of our farm system. But I knew then that the Giants finally realize that they are going to develop some bats too, because face it no big name free agent slugger will want to come to AT&T because their numbers will go down tremendously (just ask Aaron Rowand). Its not a coincidence that there are no 30+ HR hitting Giants position player since Bonds retired.
And then some guy name Buster was expected to do great things the minute he was drafted back in 2008. The rest is history.
To be honest back in April of 2010 when the baseball season started, there was no way I thought the Giants would win the World Series. No intelligent baseball man can give that assessment. The team was loaded with pitching sure, but the hitting was still suspect, with piece together free agents and overpaid “washed out” old guys. Guy name Buster was still in the minors, and the Panda was most likely going to go through a slump after the league has a seasons worth of tape on him (and he could not stop eating). Realistically I thought the Giants could win the albeit weak division with their superior pitching. But that was as far as I see them going.
In my opinion two moves made the Giants’ regular season: signing Pat Burrell rejuvenated not only him but it made Huff even better now that he is playing with his best friend. The second is of course the trade of Molina and calling up Buster. Die-hard Giants fan will never forget the contribution of Molina in the “dog” years. He was a big part of the Giants offense and Timmy’s two Cy Youngs.
And the Giants won the division by two games, on the final 162nd game. At that juncture I was just happy that we got into the playoffs. Everybody knows to win the World Series, even if you are the best team in the league a step above everyone else, EVERYTHING must click at the same time, and add in a little bit of luck (that 3 error ATL game). Then for the entire month of October all I have witness from the Giants was everything clicking together (accept for game 2 of the ATL series where it seems the team forgot spring training 101). I mean CODY ROSS? He was a nobody getting tossed around the league (I remember Giants playing against him when he was with the Dodgers), but he came through big. Renteria was a bum the entire season but even he found his usual playoff magic. Calls (other than the strike zone) and plays were all going the Giants way. Not to discredit the team’s effort, but man magic was definitely inside.
That entire playoff stretch, the game 5 (thank you internet for my digital copy), and the parade after is something I will never forget.
Special shout out to my lovely friend Amber Leong for watching all the magic along side with me. A special non-shout out to my best friend Chris Chu for being MIA (I kid I kid).
There comes a sore subject with long time die hard Giants fans who have stuck with the team through it all with regards to what is dubbed “the fair weather fans”. They are fans would have only started to root for the team once it was known they made the playoffs and are making a run at the championship. I have absolutely no problem with the disdained that is thrown at the band wagoners. Die-hard fans deserve that much to voice their opinions (you know, where the fuck were you guys back in 2007?).
Speaking of 2007, what happened to the Giants in 2010 with regards to fans was exactly what happened to the Warriors when they made their playoff run! To be honest back then I was also saying where the fuck were you guys the past 7 years when the team absolutely sucked?
My personal opinion on that subject is that, it is all good. I have no hate for the fair weather fans. Because at the end of the day, it is all LOVE and SUPPORT for the team. The teams sees all the support from the entire region behind them and they played that much harder. And hopefully free agents will see the atmosphere here in San Francisco and would want to come to play here (being World Series champs does not hurt. Thank you Miguel Tejada for seeing the light).
I will say this though, the satisfaction the fair weather fans have from the Giants’ triumph will never match up to the same feeling die hard fans have. Those that have stuck with the team through the bad times, hung on to every bit of news during the off season, cannot wait for every new spring training, etc., will have the greatest joy from seeing the Giants finally bringing it home. That, the die hard fans can keep for themselves, and something band wagoners cannot touch.
To conclude, 2010 was definitely special seeing the Giants become World Series champions. There times when I still cannot believe it actually happened. February is only next month, and the journey to defend the title begins.