After fifty-six years since their last World Series victory, and fifty-two years since their move to San Francisco, the Giants are the kings of baseball. They seemed like a long shot not too long ago, but teams with great pitching can always overcome adversity given a defense that doesn’t betray them and a lineup that produces in timely fashion. The Giants had that in ample quantities.
When Walter O’Malley talked Charles Stoneham into vacating New York and relocating to California following the 1957 season, it seemed for the longest time that the Dodgers, moving to more populous Los Angeles, got the better of the deal. Dem Bums won a World Series the second year they were in Southern California, then another in 1963 and another in 1965. The Giants won the NL pennant overcoming their bitter rivals in a playoff, and then famously lost in seven games to the mutually-hated Yankees. It would be 27 years before the Giants would appear again in the World Series, only to be embarrassed in a sweep by their Bay Area neighbors, the Oakland Athletics, and upstaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake that struck minutes before Game 3 at Candlestick Park. After finally building a new ballpark in 2000, the Giants got the World Series in 2002 led by Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, and led 5-0 going into the 7th inning of Game 6 that would have clinched the series over the Anaheim Angels. Alas, the Angels rallied to win that game and then followed up by winning the series the next night.
In San Francisco, they called it “Giants torture”. On Wednesday, they got to expunge the bad memories as the newest Champions held a joyous parade on a perfect Indian Summer day in the City by the Bay. Of special note and adding a note of closure was Willie Mays, who rode in the parade in April, 1958 welcoming the Giants, riding in the front of the parade he never got to have during his playing days in San Francisco. Baseball is a game of memories, ironies, and fitting closures, and that day had it all.
As for the Rangers, a benighted franchise seemingly born under a bad sign and condemned to neglect in an area where football and NASCAR rule, finally found salvation from bankruptcy thanks to Pittsburgh, PA labor lawyer Chuck Greenberg and direction from Hall of Famer and Texas icon Nolan Ryan. It was the most successful season, by far, in the Rangers’ fifty-year history and with a talented lineup, productive farm system, and shiny TV contract with Fox Sports, the Rangers appear poised to compete for years to come.
And so an eventful and always-entertaining 2010 season comes to a close, and now we are at what many fans find to be the most interesting league of them all: Hot Stove League. Next week we’ll take up that subject.