EXTRA BAGGS: The fate of the final-out ball, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: The fate of the final-out ball, etc.

DETROIT What happened to the ball from the final outSunday night, the one that Sergio Romo so daringly threw at 89 mph down themiddle past a baffled Triple Crown winner to win a World Series?

Buster Posey tucked it safely in his glove. And he didnt wantto be responsible for it.

So I gave it to Boch, Posey said. Let him make thedecision.

This ball might mean more to Bruce Bochy than anyone else.Hes spent a lifes work in this game, beginning in 1975 when he was a20-year-old in the Appalachian League, renting a trailer near the West Virginiaborder with four other guys for 10 a month.

A backup catcher who feared cut day every spring, Bochy nolonger has to fret over his place. He has arrived, in every sense. Hesfashioned an 18-year career as a manager that includes six NL West titles,three NL pennants and two World Series championships.

Hes the first manager to win two titles in a three-yearspan since the Yankees and Joe Torre three-peated in 1998-2000, and the firstNL manager to do so since Sparky Anderson and the Big Red Machine won in1975-76.

If you dont consider this two non-consecutive-titles-in-three-seasonsthing a dynasty, then look at it another way: If Buster Posey hadnt gotten takenout by a targeted hit at home plate in May of 2011, the Giants just might havewon last year, too. They wouldve gotten in the playoffs, at least. And asweve learned by now, you never underestimate Bochy in the postseason.

In the story I wrote after the Giants clinching victorySunday, I described 2010 as a happy accident and 2012 as more of amaster-planned community -- the younger, more athletic, contact-oriented, defensivelystrong team that Bochy and GM Brian Sabean always believed would fit theirballpark and division.
RELATED: These World Series champion Giants weren't lucky -- just good

To put it another way: Two years ago, the Giants were aGrateful Dead concert one long, rocked out, improvised, feel-good jam session.With some familiar wafting scents, too.

This time, it was, in the words of Motowns own Diana Ross,I Hear a Symphony.

But it was a symphony that required so many instruments tobe tuned along the way. And Bochy conducted better than Vivek Mehta, using TimLincecums tempo allegro to brighten the middle innings, believing that BarryZito could keep time on percussion and backing it all with deep, determinedreverberations from Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong.

When Brian Wilson couldnt provide the crescendo, Bochy wentwith cymbals by committee. It almost never works that way in a bullpen. Thistime, it did.

Bochy used his personnel expertly. He not only put them inpositions to succeed, but the respectful way in which he nudged them ledplayers like Lincecum to embrace those adjustments.

And Bochy joined Torre and Sparky in baseball lore.

I count my blessings, Bochy said. Im blessed to be in asituation where we can win. I know how lucky I am and Im numb really, thatweve won two World Series in the last three years. Im sure it will sink in,but right now, Im speechless.

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Tigers manager Jim Leyland went out of his way to give Bochyand the Giants credit for being the better team in the World Series.

This wasnt the first time Leyland has gotten bested byBochy. In fact, Bochy pretty much has career ownage on Leyland. Entering this series, Leyland had a 24-40 record against Bochy-managedteams:

The Pirates were 4-8 against the Padres in 1995 and 4-9against them in 96; the Marlins were 5-6 against the Padres in 97 and 4-5against them in 98; the Rockies were 4-9 against the Padres in 99, the Tigerswere 2-1 against the Giants in 2008 and 1-2 against them in 11.

And now, Bochy is 4-0 against him in the postseason.

Obviously there was no doubt about it, they swept us,Leyland said. So there was certainly no bad breaks, no fluke. I tip myhat to them. Simple, they did better than we did.

We just didn't do good enough.They were better thanwe were, and you can't say anything different.I mean, if it goes sevengames and you lose the seventh game on a freak play or something, you mightsay, well, we were as good as they were, but in this series we were not as goodas they were, that's simple, you tip your hat to them.

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From sweeping the Yankees to getting swept by the Giants Leyland summed it up in one word: Flabbergasted.

Hey, he wasnt the only one. I picked the Tigers in five,too, as some folks have delighted in reminding me.

My rationale: The Giants had expended so much energy in thefirst two rounds while winning six elimination games. They didnt have a chanceto set up their rotation, and they hadnt played well at home until those lasttwo games against the Cardinals in the NLCS.

Plus wed already seen what Justin Verlander did to kill theBernie-leaning As, who entered the postseason with more momentum than anyone.Along with a lot of others, I felt it wouldnt be smart to bet againstVerlander. (And if you want to chastise me for not believing, then you dontreally understand what a beat reporter does.)

You know what happened: Pablo Sandoval turned Game 1 intoPandamonium, and the entire tone of the series changed from there.

After the fact, the Giants werent shy about saying it: Theylet all those predictions fuel them.

I think some people have a foot in their mouth right now,Cain said.

Guilty as chmnnfnannhnhhrged.

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The Giants won the first extra-inning clinching World Seriesgame since the Florida Marlins won Game 7 in 1997. The two guys with thego-ahead singles in those games, both to right field?

Marco Scutaro and Edgar Renteria. Seems appropriate enough.

Well, maybe Leyland would see it differently. Renterias hitclinched Leyland his only World Series title as a manager. Scutaros hit deniedLeyland another.

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Posey is likely to become the first player to win an MVPaward and World Series title in the same season since Kirk Gibson in 1988.

Hed also become just the third Giant to pull off that doublefeat, joining Willie Mays (in 1954) and Carl Hubbell (in 1933).

The Giants could join the 1976 Reds as the only teams tohave a player win the All-Star MVP, regular-season MVP and World Series MVP inthe same season.

The NL MVP will be awarded Nov. 15. I was one of 32 votersassigned to that committee by the BBWAA. Regulations prohibit me from revealingmy ballot until the award is announced, but based on gathered intelligence, itwould be a huge shock if Posey doesnt win in a landslide.

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Not to make Dusty Baker feel any more miserable, but if theReds had gotten past the Giants in the NLDS, I really believe they wouldvegone all the way.

They had defense and a live-armed bullpen that was even moretalented than what the Giants displayed in the World Series, and dont forgetwhat Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey did in their starts. They might havegotten Johnny Cueto back for the World Series, too.

The Reds and Giants were the only teams in the majors indeed, the only teams since the 2006 White Sox to receive 30 starts fromfive different pitchers. Not to suggest Mike Leake couldve been Lincecum, butrotation depth can be such an asset to help you survive a postseason series.

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The Giants survived that grinding NLDS because they found away to win in extra innings when Bailey held them to one hit and struck out 10in Game 3. And when Jay Bruce couldve sent the Reds through with a home run inthe ninth inning of Game 5, Romo put the weight of the entire season on everypitch he threw. Incredibly, he did that 12 times as Bruce fouled away onepitchers strike after another. Finally, Bruce lifted a slider to shallow leftfield, and Romo won the battle.

I think that was the proof kiln moment for Romo the momenthe became what the Giants needed him to be.

His manager and his teammates already believed in him. Buttwo years earlier, hed given up that home run in Atlanta to another leftyhitter, Eric Hinske, which nearly cost the Giants everything. (The Giantsrallied in the ninth to win, leading Romo to exclaim over and over, I love myteammates.)

Romo suddenly had confidence that his ordinary, 88-mphtwo-seam fastball could be more than an honesty pitch to keep him from triplingup sliders. It could become a weapon a perfect little ploy when hitters werelooking for that sweeping breaker.

Even Triple Crown hitters.

The Giants wouldnt have made it to that final confrontationwith Miguel Cabrera, and the celebration that followed, if they hadnt squeakedpast the Reds just as they did in that torturous NLDS with the Braves in2010. Theres something to be said about that, I think.

First youve got to win your division and the biggestobstacle, as weve learned, is that first round, Sabean said. Whenever wevebeen able to punch through, weve gone to the World Series or won the WorldSeries.

In our case this year, Romos save in Cincinnati was thelightning rod. Thats where everything began to turn.

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I sometimes wonder why Santiago Casilla doesnt get more credit,love, ink, edible arrangements, etc. for converting 19 of his first 20 saveopportunities, which was so important to keep the bullpen from destabilizingafter Wilsons elbow couldnt make it through the first week of the season.

Well, Casilla was the winning pitcher in Sundays WorldSeries clincher, and he joins a very short list of Giants to make that claim:Tim Lincecum, Don Liddle, Dolf Luque, Art Nehf (twice) and Christy Mathewson.

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Just for kicks, I also looked up the list of Giants pitchersto throw the final pitch to clinch a World Series championship:

Sergio Romo, Brian Wilson, Johnny Antonelli, Dolf Luque, ArtNehf (twice again!) and Mr. Mathewson.

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It was Barry Zito, along with Hunter Pence, who took thefloor before Game 4, reminding the Giants that the Tigers had just swept theYankees in the ALCS. Zito also reminded his mates that there was a strongchance of storms and an even stronger chance of Justin Verlander in Game 5.

So there was no place for complacency.

It was one more, one final speech that reached its intendedaudience.

This is the Giants seventh World Series title in franchisehistory, trailing only the Yankees (27), Cardinals (11) and As (9).

Its the fifth time the Giants have clinched the title onthe road. They havent won a World Series in front of their home crowd since1921.

Youre just going to have to deal with that.

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Just landed in SFO and the World Series championship T-shirtsare in every store. The merchandisers mustve printed them in advance, whichmeans they didnt listen to the pundits, either!

Down on the Farm: Dunston Jr. aims to go from bat boy to outfielder for Giants

Down on the Farm: Dunston Jr. aims to go from bat boy to outfielder for Giants

As the child of a famous athlete, it’s easier said than done to make a name for yourself. Owning the same exact name as that person — in this case Shawon Dunston, the No. 1 pick in the 1982 MLB Draft — the stakes are even higher. 

"When I was younger that definitely took a toll on me," Shawon Dunston Jr., 24, said in an exclusive phone interview with CSNBayArea.com. "If I went 4-for-4 people would say 'Well your dad played so you should go 4-for-4' and if I went 0-for-4 it would be like, 'Your dad played and you're not even good.'" 

Dunston Jr. paved his path on the diamond starring at Valley Christian High School in San Jose. The speedy outfielder originally committed to college baseball powerhouse Vanderbilt University, but the Chicago Cubs selected Dunston Jr. in the 11th round of the 2011 MLB Draft — and he elected to go the pro route. A mere twenty-nine years earlier, the Cubs took the elder Dunston with the top pick in the '82 draft. 

Once Dunston Jr. reached pro ball, all the noise about his dad was put to rest. 

"I know how to tune that out. I love my dad. I look at my dad as dad first, not the ballplayer," said Dunston Jr. "Now I just worry about what I have to do. My dad did what he had to do and that's that." 

The senior Dunston of baseball duo knew it wouldn't be easy for his son. No matter what his son did on the field, people would talk but his message was simple — be yourself. 

"He said honestly you're in a lose-lose situation. If you do well they're going to say that you should just do well and if you don't do well they'll get too surprised," said Dunston Jr. "He just said honestly to do what you have to do, play hard, work hard, good things will happen and don't take the game for granted. Guys are gonna come after you because of who you are so just be ready for that and I've always put that in the back of my head."

In order for Dunston Jr. to continue to grow out of the shadow of his famous father, it has become clear that his health is just as important as his stats. This was an early lesson after finding his way to the disabled list three times in the past two seasons. Ten games into the 2015 season, Dunston Jr. went down with a shoulder injury that sidelined him for two months. Then he suffered a strained hamstring just two games after his return.. He played only 24 games that year.

In 2016, his season came to a halt on July 14 in West Virginia due to a freak accident. Going for a ball in center field, he tore multiple ligaments in his ankle. The injury ended his season and required six months of rehab. 

"Mentally it was draining, but injuries are a part of the game and you have to deal with it. I mean you can't cry about it. It is what it is and now I'm just glad I'm fully back 100-percent healthy and I'm trying to stay that way,"

The season-ending ankle injury was especially frustrating as it came with a new franchise, the same one he grew up rooting for and ran around the field with his dad during the 2002 World Series. On June 8, 2016, the Cubs traded Dunston Jr. to the Giants after four-and-a-half years in Chicago's farm system. After hearing the news from his coaches in Lynchburg, Virginina, he called his parents — and the emotions set in. 

"At first I was kind of in shock a little bit, didn't know what to think or do," Dunston Jr. remembers. "It was weird because the Cubs were the only thing I knew growing up since I was 18 with the organization that drafted me. That's all I knew, that's all I'd been around.”

He went through about a two-week adjustment period with his new team, but then it was back to the game he has been around since Day 1.

"After that it was just baseball and I said I'm with a new team and it's a fresh start. It's still the same game. You're gonna hit the ball, throw, run. So after that I got my mind right and said let's get at it."

And get at it he did. In the 24 games he played with the Single-A Augusta GreenJackets, Dunston Jr. hit .284 with a .348 on-base percentage and .407 slugging percentage, increasing his numbers across the board. Some adjustments were made after learning from new coaches, however, more than anything, the biggest change to his game was getting the consistent at-bats he needed  until he went down. 

“The only thing that was frustrating was that I got hurt, because I think I was figuring things out little by little."

The Dunston duo's Giants journey began in 1996 with the senior of the two splitting time at shortstop with Rich Aurilia. Dunston was then traded from the Indians in '98 and the two flew from Cleveland to San Francisco while Shawon Jr. visited his father on vacation. The first real Giants memories for Dunston Jr. came in 2001 when his father began his third stint in San Francisco to end his career.

“Memories, honestly, probably 2001, 2002 seeing Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, Rich Aurilia and J.T. Snow, all those guys,” said Dunston Jr. “I remember it like it was yesterday being in the dugout, being the bat boy, especially in the [2002] World Series. My dad's last year, seeing that team, those are probably the first memories of the Giants growing up in the Bay Area.” 

Any team that drafted Dunston Jr. would be making a dream come true and the Cubs made that happen in 2011. The fact he is a part of the Giants now though, is a reality he never believed possible. 

“Before the draft you just wanna be drafted by any team, but yeah, I always wanted to play for the Giants,” says Dunston Jr. “It's pretty surreal going through the minor leagues with the team that I grew up watching and I'm just waiting for my time to come in San Francisco. Until then, I'll continue to work hard in the minor leagues.” 

The younger Dunston has proven to be his own player on the field while moving away from the shadow of his father. Now, to go from bat boy to outfielder in San Francisco, Dunston Jr. hopes for health first over anything else to show off his skillset and climb the minor league ladder.

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the Dodgers will play their first opening day since 1950 without Vin Scully calling their games. He won't be in the stands. He won't make a point of watching on TV, either.

"It's a day game. I'll probably have things to do," the famed 89-year-old announcer told The Associated Press from his home in Hidden Hills, California. "I might catch a piece of it."

Not that Scully has any regrets since retiring after last season. He says he's grateful for every minute he spent with the Dodgers, the franchise he joined 67 years ago in Brooklyn and followed to Los Angeles eight years later. He feels blessed to have worked as long as he did covering the game he fell in love with as a boy.

But he's learned that after a lifetime in the broadcast booth, watching a game as a fan holds little appeal.

"During the World Series back around '77 or '78, there was a game at Dodger Stadium with the Yankees, and I went to the game as a spectator. Now, I hadn't been as a spectator in a long, long time, and I felt somewhat restless that I wasn't broadcasting," Scully recalled Tuesday.

"I did not have the challenge of trying to describe, accurately and quickly, the way it should be done. I just sat there, and I was not happy, I'll be honest. So I realized that although I love the game, what I loved more was broadcasting it," he said.

Scully spoke to the AP because the Library of Congress has announced it will preserve his call of a 1957 game between the Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, the final time they played at the hallowed old stadium. Both teams moved to California after that season, opening up the West Coast to Major League Baseball.

Scully's call of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game is more famous. But that game at the Polo Grounds meant more to him personally, because he grew up going to games there, cheering for the Giants and dreaming of watching from the press box.

"It was so meaningful to me. I'm not sure what it really means to baseball fans anymore," Scully said. "The sands of time have washed over the Polo Grounds. But for me, it was one of the more memorable games I was ever involved in."

During that broadcast, Scully implored the players to take their time before there franchises left town: "Let's take it easy, we just want to take one last lingering look at both of you." The Library of Congress called it "a masterful example of the artistry that great sports announcers bring to their work, as well as their empathy for players and fans."

Six decades later, Scully is having an easier time letting go. So no plans to keep track Monday when Los Angeles plays the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

"All summer long, I expect to get feelings of nostalgia, wistfulness, whatever the word may be, but no, I am comfortable, I do know in my heart and soul I am where I should be, and that really is all I need," he said.

"Sure, after 67 years, you'll bet I'll miss it," he added. "But heck, I miss the guys I hung out with when I was in school."