Nov. 1, 2010RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEOBOX SCORERay Ratto
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The winners get to say whatever they want without time limit or rebuttal, so when Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand, who coincidentally hit the first pitch of the 2010 season from Houstons Roy Oswalt to shortstop Tommy Manzella for an out, said it, it made perfect sense.
Did I see this coming? Absolutely not, he said, holding a beer for refreshment and a champagne bottle for target practice. And thats the beauty of it.
Bingo. Case closed. No further interpretation required.
The Season That Dare Not Speak Its Name finally shouted to the heavens, and the San Francisco Giants are finally, finally, the champions of the baseball-speaking world.
They are so because they had the best pitching, over and over again. They are so because they squeezed every last drop from a roster that never really looked quite ripe to the outside world. They are so because Bruce Bochys cover as an elite manager was finally and irrevocably blown.
And they are so because Edgar Renteria is the gift that kept on giving, even after nobody really wanted to know what gifts he had to bring.
But he brought one last beauty to the final party of the most improbable championship season in decades -- an aggressive swing at a misplaced 2-0 cutter from Cliff Lee with two outs in the seventh inning that got legs and carried just over the Samsung sign in left-center field.
He is a great pitcher, and I knew the cutter was his best pitch, Renteria said as he basked in the glory of his Series MVP award. When he got to 2-0, I thought I might only get one pitch to swing at, so I guessed he would throw the cutter, and I got lucky.
This, of course, after he told center fielder Andres Torres that he was going to do just that. Luck? Maybe. Luck with a side of Damn straight! Absolutely.
Luck, of course, is the residue of a lot of things beyond merely design, and the Giants were designed in such a way that nobody in their right mind would see this as remotely possible even as recently at September 1.
Shows what the world knows.
These guys entered another world on September 1, bullpen coach Mark Gardner said. They were unbelievable. Beyond unbelievable. Right now, youd have to think they could beat whatever Yankees you can think of.
That might be more than most historians can endure.
This Giant team went through the playoffs with what most objective observers would say was an extraordinarily top-heavy team -- all pitching, lots of defense, so-so hitting. They were the first team in 20 years to have neither a 30-homer nor a 90-RBI man. Their four- and five- hitters Monday took turns batting eighth in the postseason.
They didnt make sense in a lot of ways, which is why they made perfect sense at the end.
Tim Lincecum was over-the-top good, allowing three hits and striking out 10 in eight innings. This, following Madison Bumgarners absurdly brilliant start Sunday in Game 4. In fact, Matt Cain, who threw 7 23 innings of four-hit shutout ball in Game 2, finished third.
Now how were the Texas Rangers supposed to cope with that? By going down quietly, thats how. By getting only one man past first base, Nelson Cruz, who homered off Lincecum in the bottom of the seventh. By hitting .190, 86 points lower than their regular season average.
By vanishing at games end, properly vanquished and knowing that if the Series had gone five more games, theyd be down 8-2.
This was the right result, for the right reasons, as absurd as the notion is. Even now.
This is surreal, Cain said. It doesnt feel like it really happened."
Theyll get used to it. Theyll have to. Theyre all getting jewelry that says they did it, and rings dont lie.
And in the end, the clinching game a blur (at 2:32, it was the quickest Series game since 1992), the process of making it all sink in began.
With players running around the bases and hugging wives and girlfriends and each other and equipment manager Mike Murphy -- the last original Giant, a former bat boy at Seals Stadium, wrestling unsuccessfully with tears and trying to decline over and over again to tell anyone how it feels to finally win the big one -- the fans on the floor of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington closed with a familiar chant: Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!
Youd have thought they would finally rise above such parochial concerns, but old habits die hard. Now they all have to learn how to wear the crown, and the adjustment from lifelong afterthoughts to the world of unalloyed bragging will be hell.
A delicious, joyous, relentless, giddy, drunken hell.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.