As a fan of a rival team, it is not always easy to step back, look at the accomplishments of another team, and just appreciate the significance of what transpired. Yes, I’m writing about the 2012 World Series Champions: the San Francisco Giants. No, it may not be the topic I would have chosen a mere three weeks ago, but I can acknowledge a major accomplishment when I see it.
The transformation of a team on the ropes, down 0-2 leaving their own home park in the NLDS to the Cincinnati Reds, turning around their postseason hopes over the next three games is pretty inspiring. They became the first NL team to ever do exactly what they did in winning the series from that hole. They dug themselves a hole again in the NLCS falling behind 1-3 only to storm back with three straight wins again against the St. Louis Cardinals in winning the pennant and heading to the World Series. What happened next, and just concluded last night, shows a team that built confidence, clearly turned a corner, and never looked back. Leading a series from the opening game hadn’t happened in those prior two series (which both started in their home park), but the World Series started again at home … and the Giants capitalized. They started 2-0 with two fairly convincing wins, effectively shutting down what had been an explosive Tigers offense, and rode that same wave into two more games, and two more wins, at Comerica Park in Detroit for a no-doubter series sweep and an unexpected second title in only three seasons.
The Giants’ pitching in their wins far outshadowed any shortcomings they may have shown in their losses. Crazy to think how significantly two pitchers in particular – Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito – played in such drastically different roles than we as baseball observers had seen them in the past. Lincecum, the clutch middle reliever? Zito, the big-game pitcher? The biggest spotlight to me easily shines on starter Ryan Vogelsong. Four post-season starts (one LDS, two LCS, and one WS) that combined to a 1.09 ERA, 21 K to 10 BB, and wins in each of these games for his team (3-0 record personally). The games he pitched were turning point games in the run to the championship. It was beyond a “clutch” performance from a very unsung hero.
The Cincinnati Reds could have taken this team out but didn’t. The St. Louis Cardinals could have taken this team out but didn’t. And, ultimately, the Detroit Tigers were never really in a position to even control the final series. The San Francisco Giants did what it took to become the World Champions of baseball this season. They showed incredible moxie in facing elimination (6-0 in elimination games) and fought back. It’s a commendable accomplishment regardless of your rooting interest.
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