Unofficially, it’s been San Francisco Giants Week here at Baseball: Past and Present. For anyone who wants to relive the Giants’ championship one more time, I am pleased to present this guest post from Doug Bird.
It was a 56-year wait for the city by the Bay-not long by Cubs standards, but a lifetime for many San Franciscans . Position by position, with the exception of starting pitching, the Giants simply didn’t stack up to the Texas Rangers and had little, if any chance to win the 2010 World Series. They would have to beat the unbeatable Cliff Lee, not once, but twice to get the trophy. They had spent $28 million for players either off the roster, (Barry Zito), or on the bench, (Aaron Rowand), would have to stop the speed of Elvis Andrus and the power of Josh Hamilton, Vlad Guerro and Nelson Cruz. They would have to beat the Philadelphia Phillies and then defeat a team which had eliminated the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees.
They would do it in only five games and with a player who had effectively been benched most of the season, (World Series MVP Edgar Rentaria) , replaced a season long slum ridden third baseman who had hit over .300 in 2009, (Pablo Sandoval), with a utility infielder who hit only .231 with nothing at stake but became a major RBI factor with games on the line, and valued defense over everything else. They counted on a twenty-one year old rookie starter, (Madison Bumgarner), to put them up three games to one and not let the Rangers back into the hunt and they took advantage of every Ron Washington/Cliff Lee mistake, (which in Washington’s case were many), and proved to all that baseball is indeed a twenty five man team game.
The Texas Rangers had a couple of advantages in this series, and while neither team seemed heavily favored over the other, could definitely be seen as a disadvantage for the Giants. The first advantage was the obvious one-Cliff Lee. A slightly better than average but solid starter during the regular seasons, Lee had become a force to be reckoned with during the playoffs over the past season two playoff seasons. This year’s playoffs against the Rays and Yankees once again showcased his invincibility in the most pressure filled of games. To become the World Series champions, The Giants would have to defeat Cliff Lee not once, but twice. Tim Lincecum would face him at least twice and would have to
be near perfect each time. Even that might not be enough. Lincecum would have to pitch at least nine innings of shutout baseball each start. Even that might not be enough.
Lee was very hittable in game one, throwing a flat fastball and struggling to locate his curve ball in game one, a game which turned out to be the sloppiest of sloppy affairs for both teams. Lee was back on track in the fifth and final game with Lee and Lincecum turning major league hitters into helpless spectators for six innings. Lee’s only mistake- a hanging cutter out over the plate to Edgar Rentaria, three run homerun, series over.
The second advantage for the Texas Rangers was a solid, everyday lineup. The Rangers had been able to put the same lineup on the field for the 2010 season, a lineup which featured power, speed and defense Rangers featured Josh Hamilton, batting champ and possible MVP, a revitalized and healthy Vlad Guerro, always potential batting champ Michael Young, the powerful Nelson Cruz (one of the few oft injured Rangers), and sensational rookie shortstop Elvis Andrus. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy had been forced to jigsaw puzzle his weak offensive lineup often during the regular season and throughout the playoffs.
The Texas Rangers had two seemingly insurmountable advantages. The Giants had Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and dirt on their uniforms. Turned out that was more than enough.
Email Doug Bird at firstname.lastname@example.org