The Giants Win the Pennant! The Giants Win the Pennant! The Giants … wait a minute; they just won the WORLD SERIES!
If Russ Hodges got that excited about the Giants winning the pennant in 1951, what sort of broadcast history might he have made about their recent conquest of the entire baseball world? When Edgar Renteria hit his clout in the 7th inning of game five, we could faintly hear the echo of Hodges singing out: “Bye-Bye, Baby!” as the ball barely cleared the fence. We who live in the San Francisco Bay Area may decide that we have finally and triumphantly become part of the Major League Baseball universe.
After all, it was in 1954 that the Giants last won the World Series (which did not actually encompass the world in those days, or even the U.S.), and they still called the Polo Grounds in New York City their home. In 1957, when their fortunes were low, their baseball stadium was starting to resemble the Roman Coliseum, and New York was getting a mite small for three major league teams, the Giants started looking for a new home.
Dodgers’ owner Walter O’Malley was evidently tired of dodging streetcars and began thinking of the growing city of Los Angeles. However, O’Malley was told the Dodgers would not be allowed to move to Tinsel Town unless a second team moved to California as well, so he persuaded Giants’ majority owner Horace Stoneham, who was being courted by San Francisco officials around that time, that California was not really going to fall off into the ocean and that there was still gold in them thar hills.
Although Hodges moved with the Giants and broadcast their games until 1970, he was only able to scream “The Giants win the pennant!” once more, in 1962, and never to declare his beloved team the world champions. That honor (at least on the radio) went to Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper, a couple of former Giants players, and Jon Miller, who has already been inducted into the broadcaster’s wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Nice going, guys.
At the beginning of this year, the odds of Tony Bennett singing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” after the final game of the World Series (as is the team tradition after victories) were longer than the miles from SF to NY: a +5000, although the odds of them winning their division were only a +475, not really close to even money. Most “experts” had them finishing second in the division. Given their opening day lineup, the oddsmakers were probably pretty close.
Remember that lineup? Although much has been made of the “mercenary” Giants, those names were Rowand, Renteria, Sandoval, Huff, DeRosa, Molina, Bowker, and Uribe, with Lincecum as the starting pitcher. While DeRosa, Molina and Bowker are gone (ironically, Molina being traded to the Rangers…), and Sandoval turned out to be a Teddy Bear instead of a Panda, those players all contributed to the amazing season. After all, Freddy Sanchez was on the roster but injured, and Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner were sent back to the minors for “more seasoning”. In reality, only Pat Burrell and Cody Ross in the field and Javier Lopez in the bullpen were in-season acquisitions that paid big dividends. In other words, not quite as long a list of hired guns as some Padres-I mean, people-would have you believe.
Although every pundit in the world new that pitching would be the strength of the 2010 Giants (which it was), the hitting still had to be good enough to get them into the playoffs. Although 92 games was barely enough to get them through in a weak division, their team batting average in the regular season was .257, actually good for seventh in the league (16 teams), with 697 runs scored, good for ninth. Not great, but good enough. Surprisingly, after all the hullabaloo over their lack of power, the Giants hit 162 homeruns, which was actually sixth in the league! Can you believe that their batting average for the playoffs was only .237, but with 13 homeruns in 15 games and 57 runs scored? Shocking!
The really good news? Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Bumgarner should all be locked up for a few years (along with Zito, of course…), as well as most of that fabulous bullpen, especially Romo, Affeldt and Wilson. Not to mention Buster Posey. This all bodes well for the future. We’ll ‘wait and see’, but don’t be surprised if Tony Bennett is still singing at the end of next year.